— Vice-President says corruption under past administration will be exposed
PENDING investigations will soon reveal the high level of fraudulence during the past five years, said Vice-president, Bharrat Jagdeo, as he issued a stern warning to the “purveyors of untruth” during the final day of the Budget 2020 debate.
“Over the next year there shall be a number of investigations and the country will be shocked by the revelation of high fraudulence involving high-level officials of the past administration,” said Jagdeo, while responding to claims of fraud by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Roysdale Forde.
Forde had started a chant of “fraud is fraud” on the opposition side of the National Assembly, as he sought to label the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government as one which was elected through fraudulent means.
But Vice-president Jagdeo quickly “turned the tables” on Forde, noting that it was the former APNU+AFC administration that ‘refused’ to comply with the constitution and even sought to use the judiciary as a means of staying in office ‘illegally.’
On December 21, 2018, the then parliamentary opposition PPP/C, by way of a no-confidence motion, toppled the APNU+AFC government.
The opposition had secured the support of then government Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud to get an edge over the government in the House. But for months after the passage of the motion by the National Assembly, the matter had engaged all the local courts and even the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“The CCJ wiped the floor with APNU+AFC…international pressure and the fight of the people got the elections held and finally democracy prevailed,” said Jagdeo.
Even though the General and Regional Elections were held on March 2, 2020, the country was faced with a five-month impasse due to a slew of legal challenges.
“We are familiar with the saga of how they [APNU+AFC] attempted to steal the elections and use the court to endorse it,” said Jagdeo, further arguing that the “entire world” recognised the PPP/C as the legitimate government and not a single country recognised APNU+AFC’s claims that they had won the elections.
He said officials of the former administration who are now MPs on the opposition side of the House, were ‘sanctioned’ by other countries and could even face further sanctions for trying to “steal an election.”
Additionally, the vice-president said persons have been placed before the court and others will face the same fate for trying to “steal the elections.”
But Jagdeo argued that this is not the only “case of fraud” which will be dealt with, as there are a number of issues which will soon be revealed.
In highlighting a few of those cases, the vice-president said over at the Gaming Authority, which was headed by Forde, there were a lot of fraudulent transactions which included requests for bribes to issue licences.
Additionally, Jagdeo said government is still assessing the magnitude of ‘fraud’ related to fuel- smuggling. He claimed that billions were stolen because of widespread ‘fraud’ involving a number of officials from the former regime.
“The army’s internal audit pointed out that $300 million of fraud has happened through Guyoil…fraud and fueling [sic] smuggling will be exposed,” said the vice-president, adding: “What is well-known now as a key feature, a defining feature of the APNU, is tampering, illegal approval of contracts, hiring friends and families and giving out large sums of money.”
He told the National Assembly that persons will soon see the large-scale, “criminal transfer” of resources from the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). The vice-president argued that billions of dollars in land was vested but not a cent was paid to NICIL.
Following the vice-president’s presentation, Oppositiona Leader Joseph Harmon said the new government should place less focus on investigations and more on governing the country. But, Jagdeo, in his prior presentation, defended the need for investigations.
The vice-president was adamant that there was criminality of the highest extent under the past administration and those acts will soon be exposed, once investigations are completed.