Recovering GTT shares money –top HKGT officials here for talks with NICIL


TOP officials of Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company (HKGT), the firm that owes Guyana some US$5M for the 20% Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) shares it bought, are here to negotiate with the government the payment of the debt.
The Guyana Chronicle was told by usually reliable sources that it has now been confirmed that HKGT owes government’s holding company, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) the US$5M.
The HKGT officials, including a lawyer, the Guyana Chronicle has learnt, have been having discussions with NICIL, with talks expected to continue today. Sources say that Guyana has been demanding that HKGT pays interests on the US$5M debt, which has now pushed the figure to some US$6.5M.
Much mystery had surrounded the outstanding money, which at one time was described as missing. At a year-end news conference last year, NICIL had maintained that it was not in receipt of the outstanding US$5M from the sale of Government shares in GTT, and was expected to employ the method of arbitration to recover those funds.
“NICIL has not received the remaining US$5M from GTT shares which it sold… We are in the process of executing all the relief measures that are in the Sales Agreement in order for us to get it back. We have engaged our lawyers in the USA,” NICIL Chief Executive Officer, Horace James had said at the time.
He went on to explain that NICIL will be utilising the services of the attorney who had assisted them in drafting the Sales Agreement, since the person at reference was directly involved in the agreement process. “They [the lawyers] recommended a company in the United Kingdom to help us in the arbitration whenever that time comes, and when we are going there,” he’d said, adding that it is important for NICIL to use a UK company, since the arbitration will be held in London.
James had, however, made it clear that the holding company will not only go after the US$5M owed by HKGT.
In fact, he revealed that NICIL will also be seeking to recover interest costs, legal fees, the signatory to the agreement, and even the person who guaranteed it. “So, that process has started, and our lawyers have presented all the issues concerning the shares, and said that it is a very good chance that we could get back the money,” James said.
He’d also dismissed claims by the company that the government had written off the US$5M.
James had told reporters back then that documents received by Minister of State,Joseph Harmon,from the purchaser early last year, suggested that the Hong Kong-based company was under the impression that it had been relieved of paying the outstanding amount.
“The documents basically said that the purchasers of the shares indicated that they had a discussion with David Dabydeen, and were under the impression that they were relieved from paying it. But that is not so,” he’d said, adding:
“NICIL sold you something, and so you owe us; you made an initial payment and so the second payment has to be made. That is our major contention.”
In 2012, the former PPP/C Government made a decision to sell its shares in GTT for US$30M. A payment of US$25M was made, with the balance expected to be paid within two years.