–VP Jagdeo says Vice News’ documentary failed to produce any evidence linking him to corruption
RATHER than implicate him in an alleged web of corruption, Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has said that a recent documentary by Vice News titled “Guyana for sale,” has instead vindicated him as being upright in his dealings with business officials, since the report produced no evidence linking him to collecting bribes.
Dr. Jagdeo sought to bring clarity to certain aspects of the recently released Vice News episode, which featured a 15-minute segment on Guyana, and included several accusations but no evidence.
During a press conference at the Office of the President, the Vice-President also sought to give better context to a section of the documentary where his colleague, Su Zi Rhong, visited his home with an undercover Vice News reporter who was posing as an investor, while being equipped with a hidden camera.
Dr. Jagdeo said that while only a short clip from an interview with him was used in the documentary, in reality, the actual sit down lasted approximately 15-20 minutes. The Vice President noted that during the sit down, several attempts were made to implicate him in cases of corruption, but nothing could be found since nothing exists.
“Vice came into my house with the sole purpose of catching me engaged in something illegal or taking a bribe and they couldn’t do that in my most unguarded moment. So, that is the key issue here. As I said before, they are never going to find anything of that nature,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
He added: “That was the moment when this country saw me unguarded and with an international news agency trying to implicate me in a corruption scandal, when I didn’t know I was being taped and they saw what happened. I think it worked in my favour frankly speaking.”
According to the Vice-President, while the Vice news report focuses on Chinese investors who claim to be getting favourable concessions on government projects, the Vice News associate was posing as an investor for a private investment opportunity that Su has for a hotel and casino in Guyana, and has nothing to do with government investment.
Dr. Jagdeo explained that Su was among 12 interested parties who had submitted valid responses to the government’s public call for Expression of Interest for hotels since November 2020, and Su was issued one of a total of 12 standard Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government.
The Vice-President pointed out that mere fact that he could not be baited into accepting a bribe should’ve been an indication to Vice News that Su was simply leveraging his friendship to deceive them into thinking that he could get favourable deals through bribes.
“You had to know you were being scammed at that time by somebody who was leveraging contact,” Dr. Jagdeo said.
In light of this, however, the Vice-President reaffirmed that he plans to sue Su, given that the Chinese investor had earlier issued a statement that he never stated that he collects bribes on the Vice-President’s behalf. Dr. Jagdeo noted that he also plans to end his rental with Su.
“I am looking for him to throw him out. I can’t find him so far but as soon as I find him that will happen,” the Vice-President said.
Dr. Jagdeo related that the Vice News reporter could not see the situation for what it was, given that their judgment was clouded with a pre-determined agenda to get Guyana embroiled in the geopolitical issue between China and the US.
“I made it clear that as a small country we did not want to get involved in that. As you saw the framing of the report, it was precisely about that at the beginning. China’s growing presence in this hemisphere and growing concerns about this,” Dr. Jagdeo noted.
He added: “From the framing of their report, one could clearly see that we’re vindicated when I spoke about us not wanting to become a geopolitical pawn. I made it clear that we are not going to participate in an anti-China hysteria. We will look out for our country and what’s best for our people.”
The video, despite being only 15 minutes, stemmed from an almost two-hour long interview with the Vice-President back in January, and a covert operation in Guyana which lasted for almost six weeks.
The Vice-President noted that notwithstanding having extensively spoken about the issue during the two-hour interview, the reporter did not use any of his very lengthy responses on the matter. He released the full two-hour long interview earlier this year prior to the Vice News documentary.
“… in the almost two-hour long interview, just about a minute of it was used in the final product. This country has had a chance to see the entire two hours. She even asked extensively about the Amerindian, our approach to Indigenous people and I spoke about that. Clearly none of that mattered. They had to come up with a narrative.”
The Vice-President also reminded of several inconsistencies in the reporters line of questioning and in the story.
Examples of those included her lack of knowledge about the existence of the country’s Integrity Commission, a claim that Su has a stake in the oil and gas sector, this is despite CNOOC being the only Chinese company involved in Guyana’s oil and gas sector. CNOOC is a partner in the Stabroek Block along with ExxonMobil and Hess.
“It was my surprise when the report said that Su had a stake in the oil and gas sector. No other Chinese company had any stake in the oil and gas sector,” the Vice-President said.
According to Dr. Jagdeo, the documentary fell way short of its aim, and while many, including the opposition, had expected the documentary to be an explosive expose, they were instead left with a lukewarm story.
“I’ve seen some calls for resignation from APNU. They were hyping this interview as this would be the end of Jagdeo. I think they are majorly disappointed. I think they were hoping Vice would find a long range of issues with me. They didn’t find anything because as I made it clear, I don’t have any assets held abroad with any banks or properties. All my assets are here in Guyana and are declared to the Integrity Commission,” Dr. Jagdeo said.