Safeek has not provided any evidence of corruption -GRA
Stabroek News news item. Saturday 12 July 2008
Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur says Joshua Safeek of Fidelity Investments has been making bold and presumptuous statements about cleaning up corruption at customs without providing any supporting evidence.
In the latest salvo in a ferocious verbal battle, he said that Safeek must first clean out his own house and remove persons who may be misleading him into believing his actions are above scrutiny to prove his good intentions and to earn the GRA’s trust.
Sattaur said in a press statement yesterday that while he did not wish to engage Safeek in the public over issues the latter made, the public should know that the GRA has no intention of working with Safeek on his claims about corruption at customs.
“He must also behave more professional in his public condemnation of the GRA by first seeking to obtain the necessary evidence that such corruption exists and provide such evidence to either the GRA or the persons who are currently engaged in the investigation established by His Excellency (President Bharrat Jagdeo) and headed by the Auditor General, Mr. Deodat Sharma”, Sattaur stated.
According to him, Safeek is once again making strong claims of denial that he engaged in any acts of deception to defraud the state of $350M that was unearthed from a scam earlier this year which Sattaur said was mainly due to the diligent work done by the officers of the Enforcement Division of the GRA. Safeek has strongly denied that Fidelity attempted to defraud the state of $350M.
Additionally, Sattaur said that Safeek is denying that bribes were paid to customs officers though there was evidently some level of collusion to engage in fraudulent acts through the filing of false declarations, purporting to import soft drinks that were in fact polar beers.
Sattaur said that the public is not only waiting with bated breath on the outcome of the findings of the Special Task Force established by Jagdeo to investigate this among other scams, but also on Safeek’s actions to charge his broker who seemingly perpetrated the deception with or without his knowledge.
Further, the GRA boss said, that the revenue body finds it somewhat contradictory for Safeek to claim that he was not the person who paid massive bribes to the customs officers, “yet rather than attempt to address the deception that was perpetrated against him by his own agent (the broker) and take the necessary redress in law to correct this major criminal act of embezzlement, would want to advise the GRA on how to deal with corruption within its folds”.
Sattaur added that the GRA finds such statements grossly hypocritical coming from someone who appears to condone such actions within his own folds, adding that the GRA wishes to welcome any assistance by well intended citizens of the country and those who practice what they preach in dealing with corruption.
On Wednesday Safeek accused the GRA of victimizing him and his company because he exposed corruption within the body. Safeek’s press conference came on the day it was reported in the press that he would be charged the next day in relation to invoicing. He was slapped with a charge for producing falsified documents to customs a day later. The GRA on Thursday rejected Safeek’s claims of being targeted and charged that Fidelity had attempted to defraud the government of millions in revenue.
Prior to the charge on Wednesday, Fidelity was at the centre of an investigation in January this year.
This later led to President Jagdeo announcing a major probe of alleged corruption involving Fidelity and customs. Several senior customs officials were implicated and the probe is continuing.