Govt should have gone to arbitration – source

first_imgMissing US$5M GTT shares…rather than 6-year pursuit of Hong Kong-based companyWith the confusion that accompanied Guyana’s attempts to collect the outstanding US$5 million from the sale of the State’s 20 per cent stake in GTT, some persons are wondering why recourse was not previously made to an arbitrator or even the courts. According to a source close to the original deal that saw Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company (HKGTC) snagging the shares, Guyana would have been better placed to collect the outstanding money had it gone to arbitration. The source made it clear that the $5 million was never paid at the time Minister of State, Joseph Harmon returned from China and Government said it was.“When [National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited] NICIL first advertised GTT [shares], the highest public tender was $7 million. Through Ambassador David Dabydeen, they were able to get this company to buy the 20 per cent. They pushed a high price; they got US$30 million – US$25 million upfront,” the source said, adding that after two years passed and the outstanding money was not paid, the NICIL Board began discussions on how to get the money.“The money was never paid, so when Harmon went to China and came back, and said it was paid and then they found out it wasn’t paid and then they were negotiating, they should have gone to arbitration. I don’t know what has happened, but nothing NICIL did was improper. And they got very good value, because up to (2016) very little in dividends was being paid (by GTT).”The sharesNICIL had disposed of its 20 per cent shares back in 2012. The outstanding US$5 million was to be paid by October 22, 2014, but it was never paid despite several written requests from NICIL.Minister Harmon and NICIL legal counsel Natalia Seepersaud had subsequently travelled to China with the intention of collecting the money, but were informed that the money was already paid.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had later announced that Harmon was able to retrieve some documents which showed that the monies were paid. But following the controversy this revelation sparked, NICIL had refuted that the monies were ever paid.To make matters worse, it was reported that former Ambassador to China, David Dabydeen, had arranged a waiver of the payment with the Chinese company. This claim was promptly denied by former President Donald Ramotar.The dealIn January of this year, NICIL Chairman, Dr Maurice Odle had told Guyana Times that an interim agreement between the State and Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company was in full force.“An interim agreement has been made to accept three million in the first instance, of the $5 million [US] that is owed,” Dr Odle had explained. “Negotiations had been continuing with respect to the remaining $2 million. The situation remains that negotiations are in place, (so) those negotiations are (still) ongoing.”The next month, NICIL CEO Horace James had said that talks were wrapping up. He had also been optimistic of a March deadline for the negotiations to end.last_img

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