Guyana’s President David Granger told reporters on Wednesday that as Head-of-State he made the decision not to disclose the payment of a US$18M signing bonus received from ExxonMobil affiliate; Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd (ESSO).
Mr. Granger said setting up a special account at the Bank of Guyana to receive the payment is a “legitimate” act and not an indication of sinister intentions on the part of his administration.
“It is a legitimate Government of Guyana exercise. It is in the Bank of Guyana in an escrow account meaning it cannot be used for purposes not intended,” he told reporters gathered at State House in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. .
ExxonMobil Country Manager, Rod Henson told reporters on Sunday that signing bonuses are customary and normal in many petroleum agreements. “Not all, but in many around the world as part of the total financial agreement,” he said, adding that, “we did pay a US$18M signing bonus to the Bank of Guyana, to an account that is owned by the Government of Guyana and designated by the Ministry of Finance. Not to any individual but to a government bank account.”
The Guyana government has come in for heavy criticism for not making the payment known and only acknowledging that it had occurred after a leaked correspondence appeared in the media confirming same.
“It’s not a question of secrecy. Evidence of non-disclosure does not mean there is evidence of deception, the President said, adding, “There was no intention to deceive but I made a government decision not to make it public.”
Guyana’s Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, told OilNOW on Tuesday that the act of setting up a special account to receive the payment, independent of the Consolidated Fund (treasury), is not in contravention of any law. “When the money becomes public money, (that is when) it goes into the Consolidated Fund,” he said.
He told OilNOW, “the decision to put money in the account is because it’s identified for a specific purpose.”
Mr. Henson said that ExxonMobil, as a commercial entity, has no role in how the money is utilized by Guyana.