… Brassington also acted crookedly with the nation–Presidential Advisor
Presidential Advisor on Sustainable Development, Dr. Clive Thomas, says that there is simply no rational excuse Winston Brassington could have for hiding $1B in a secret account.
The money was intended to help fund the construction of the controversial Marriott Hotel.
Thomas said that such actions reflect “financial lawlessness and deceitfulness.”
Thomas’s comments come in wake of the forensic audit report on the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). The audit was conducted by Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran.
The report revealed that Brassington collected $1B from Guyana National Cooperative Bank to aid the construction of the Marriott Hotel but never spent it.
Instead, it was hidden in a secret account. It was later discovered in NICIL’s books during Goolsarran’s audit of the company.
After making the discovery, Goolsarran challenged Brassington to state why this money was not returned
if it was not used.
The NICIL Chief Executive Officer did not offer many details in this regard except to say that the money has since been returned.
But Goolsarran said,”This amount was not expended. It remained in the books of NICIL as of December 31, 2014 as a liability. It is not clear why, after two years, the funds were not returned to the Bank.”
Dr. Thomas said that Brassington’s actions constitute “financial lawlessness and dishonesty.” He noted that this is the kind of attitude “which stains and corrupts everything he is involved in.”
The Head of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) said, “By hiding the money in a private account and not spending it, I am only left to conclude that he parked the money there to have his way with it when he and his cohorts were ready.”
Additionally, Thomas said that an even more worrying development rises to the surface when one “examines the depth of Brassington’s deceitfulness.”
The economist recalled that the financial funding for the construction of the hotel saw a US$15.3M loan from Republic Bank.
However, Dr. Thomas said that had AHI used the $1B (US$5M) it collected from the Guyana National
Cooperative Bank, it would have only had cause to secure US$10M from Republic Bank which would have reduced the rate of the interest incurred.
Instead, the $1B was not used for the purpose intended and sat for over two years in a secret account.
Dr. Thomas said, “To truly grasp what Brassington did, I want the readers to ponder this. Imagine you are building a home and you need a small loan in the sum of $10M. Your mother or father gives you $5M. Would you then go to the bank and borrow $10M when you could simply take $5M and pay a smaller interest?
“Well that is what Brassington did. By his very reckless and selfish actions, Brassington put the nation in even more debt. This is just another case to prove that he seems to be the master at financial lawlessness.”
He added, “But that transaction does not make sense and there is no rational excuse Brassington could have to justify doing that. It is insane and dishonest to collect the money from the bank and upon failing to utilize it, hesitate for over two years to return it.
“Moreover, I would say that it is treachery to the highest order to place the nation in such an indebted position when it could have been avoided or reduced to a considerable degree.”
Additionally, Dr. Thomas said that Brassington also acted “crookedly with the nation as he never told the public about all the sources of funding for the construction of the Marriott Hotel.
“It is because of this audit that we are made aware that Brassington and his allies collected $1B from the Guyana National Cooperative Bank.”
The Marriott Hotel which could cost close to US$100M was met with much contention by the then Opposition bloc A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), when it was being constructed under the previous regime. The project had been criticized for lacking transparency.
Managing the construction shares of the company was Atlantic Hotel Incorporate, a subsidiary of NICIL which falls under the Government.
Marriott racked up a $60M loss up to the end of June 2015, according to Government officials. The state-owned hotel’s biggest expense is its electricity consumption. Its monthly bill to Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is in excess of $25M.
This has been a major factor why construction of a critical component of the hotel – the adjoining entertainment complex – has not started.