Every single cent of the US$18M signing bonus Guyana received when it penned the 2016 agreement with petro giant, ExxonMobil, was spent by the A Partnership For National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) regime.
Auditor General (AG), Deodat Sharma, in his recently released Audit Report for 2019, stated that the US$18M Guyana received was deposited into the Finance Ministry’s ExxonMobil Account №. 845L5086, at the Bank of Guyana.
The Bank, he explained maintained a “Cash and Investment Accounts,” to independently account for earnings accumulated from investments. The report outlined that during November 9-17, 2016, the sum of US$15.831 million was transferred to that very account and later expended to purchase overseas bonds.
The balance of US$2.176 million or G$449 million remained in the country’s Investment Account.
Later on, the report said, Guyana earned interest of US$498,775 from its investments from November 9, 2016 to December 31, 2018, while the interest from the Investment Account totalled US$2,889.
Then on December 28, 2018, the Finance Ministry was said to have instructed the Bank to transfer US$3.780 million from the Investment Account to Guyana’s Consolidated Fund. This was done on December 31, 2018, leaving a remaining balance of US$112,480 in the account.
The Auditor General noted too that as of January 2019, the value of the investments appreciated to US$14.545 million, while the interest earned on the Investment Account rose to US$42,378.
He pointed out that the Ministry then instructed the Bank in January of 2019 to close the ExxonMobil Account №. 845L5086 and transfer all balances to the Consolidated Fund.
“In keeping with the directive of the Ministry, an amount of G$3.065 billion or US$14.699 million was transferred to the Fund on January 24, 2019,” the AG highlighted, noting that a final transfer of G$104,867 or US$502.96 was made on February 14, 2019 “resulting in nil balances in the account.”
The Bank then closed the accounts in February 2019.
That transfer occurred before the High Court ruled that the December 21, 2018 No-Confidence Motion was validly passed.
It was only after intense pressure from the media, that the Coalition Government headed by former President Granger revealed that it received the signing bonus from ExxonMobil at the time of inking the 2016 Stabroek Block Production Sharing Agreement (PSA).
Before that there was silence.
Later on, the Coalition said that the money was for legal fees for the Venezuela border case at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague,
To date, Guyana remains in the dark as to how much of that signing bonus was expended on the case.
Moreover, there has been no breakdown given as to what the remainder of the funds was spent on.
Kaieteur News made contact with former Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, to provide an idea on what the money was spent.
His response was: “Once the money goes into the Consol Fund, there is no specific item; funds are spongeable when they get into the Consolidated Fund. So you don’t identify a specific item of expenditure. That is why, if you want to identify a specific item of expenditure, you keep it in a special account. But once the money is transferred into the Consolidated Fund, it becomes part of the pool of resources in the Consolidated Fund.”
Asked whether the allotted US$15 million was expended on the case, he said: “I am telling at the time of the transfer we did not spend $3 billion, on the Border Controversy case.”
Jordan explained that: “Whenever a need arose for monies to be used with reference to the Border Controversy, such sums that are identified would be transferred from the special accounts to the Consolidated Fund and then monies would be released through the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“So even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent a significant sum on the Border Controversy, and often time we had to go back to Parliament for more monies for them, I don’t remember that any monies were transferred from the special account to the Consolidated Fund and that is why the entire sum was transferred in January 2019.”