Less than a year after his appointment as General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL), Trevor Bassoo has resigned from the job amidst accusations of corruption involving the illegal sale of fuel.
Chairman of the GUYOIL Board of Directors, Paul Cheong, when asked earlier yesterday to confirm the development at the state-owned oil company, told this publication that Bassoo did in fact tender his resignation, and denied public reports that the now former General Manager was sent off the job on forced leave. According to Cheong, the man did not provide a reason for the resignation.
Contacted for a comment on the matter, Bassoo confirmed that he did in fact tender his resignation to the Board of Directors on Monday.
This, he said, was after reporting “matters of concern” to the Board. While not wanting to elaborate on the brewing issue, without speaking to a lawyer first, Basso did indicate to Kaieteur News that what is being peddled in the public domain is in fact propaganda being advocated by persons within the oil company who are in fact involved in questionable actions.
He called the reports, a smokescreen to deflect from the issue at hand.
With regards the specific allegations being made in public that he collected a suspected $600M ‘kick-back’ from an ex-police rank for the purchase and sale of fuel, Basso said he does not know the man. According to Bassoo, the man was in contact with some of the other GUYOIL personnel. According to the public reports, the former police rank, who is said to be operating a real estate agency, would purchase fuel for others using letters of credit.
Cheong, subsequently sought to clear the air in a public release, where he denied the reports that GUYOIL entered into any contract to supply Aaron Realty Inc. (ARI), the company that is run by the former police rank.
According to the public statement issued yesterday evening by Cheong, “whilst ARI was one of a number of companies which GUYOIL had discussions on the possible supply of fuel, GUYOIL has not at any time entered into a contract with ARI.”
The Chairman said that the Board of Directors has since met with Senior Minister within the Office of the President with the responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, who has since been briefed on the matter.
It was noted that, “the Minister has requested that the Auditor General be called in to investigate the allegations.”
Additionally, GUYOIL said it has accepted Bassoo’s resignation and that in the interim, a sub-committee of the Board has been appointed to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Company.
Bassoo was appointed to the position in October last year, replacing Renatha Exeter. His departure comes on the heels of recent abuses said to be practised by several oil importers with regards to the Permission for Immediate Delivery (PID) system. A Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) investigation had said that the import and clearing of fuel through the PID system was flawed, since oil importers were utilising the PID exemption letters to clear fuel without regard to whom it was destined for, i.e., whether the fuel was fully exempted, partially exempted, or subjected to tax.
GUYOIL was named among the oil importers to be found culpable but had denied the allegation that it abused the PID system. GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia, had said in a letter to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, earlier this year, that a 2017 investigation discovered that Rubis, GUYOIL and SOL Guyana, were allegedly misusing the PID system by commingling exempted fuel with fuel not exempted or partially exempted so as to avoid paying taxes owed on the required basis.