Guyana’s Head-of-State, President David Granger says his government will comply with any court ruling or legal advice stipulating that the US$18M signing bonus received from ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited be placed in the Consolidated Fund.
The sum is currently being held in a special account at the Bank of Guyana (BoG), which some observers have said is in contravention of Article 216 of the Guyana Constitution.
The Guyanese President at a press conference today at the Ministry of the Presidency told reporters, “I do not accept it was illegal, I would not knowingly do something that is unlawful.”
The President was at the time addressing his first press conference held in two years and was pressed on the legality of the placement of the US$18M into the BoG account.
Mr. Granger, speaking in the Rupununi Room of the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP), told the media that as was explained by the Minster of Foreign Affairs, (Vice President Carl Greenidge); there was good reason for the monies to be placed in the special account.
According to the Guyanese President however, if advised by his legal team that the deposit is in fact illegal, or is guided by a court ruling, then the administration will in fact comply.
“The money is safe,” President Granger told reports and reiterated that it does in fact belongs to the Guyanese people and that the purpose for which it was set aside has not yet been realize.
Responding to the growing chorus of consternations over the Guyana government’s handling of the US$18M signing bonus from the US Oil Major, the President insists the deposit in the BoG account is not a crime and that it was a course of action recommended.
He suggested that having been deposited at the Bank of Guyana, the money would be insulated from being misused or stolen and insisted there is “no raft of corruption or any intention to misuse that money…it was put there for a reason.”
Asked about his administration’s (mis)handling of the US$18M signing bonus and any impact on his government’s credibility, the President maintains that his administration continues to remain cautious in its treatment with companies such as ExxonMobil.
The President said his government was cognizant “that every corporation wants to increase its profit and as far as I am concern I want the best for Guyana.”
He was adamant government is not daunted by rumors surrounding ExxonMobil but the administration will seek to ensure that there is a good regulatory framework for the oil and gas industry.
According to the President however, any Corporation breaching local laws will be placed before the court.
Speaking directly to ExxonMobil, the President said “I am not afraid of reputation…If people break the law they will be brought before the court,” Mr. Granger said and reminded too that this applies to members of his government.