Amidst a damning audit of its dealings and investments, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Winston Brassington, doesn’t appear too worried about his fate with the state-owned entity.
Brassington called a press conference on Monday afternoon to respond and clarify several statements and information contained in a forensic audit report of the operations of NICIL.
The report has cited several breaches and bad investment decisions made by the government holding company under the PPP Civic administration. Brassington has been blamed for many of those shortcomings, but today he insisted that every decision he made was on behalf of the government and the cabinet based on their advice. He said he is a servant of the government and he agreed with a description by former Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, that Brassington is in fact a creature of the cabinet.
Today, Brassington appeared confident of the job he has done over the years and declared that “I am confident of my integrity. I have operated for 20 years in government and we have done a lot of projects and everything that we do, has been guided by decisions and paperwork that goes through board and cabinet and parliament”.
He questioned “if someone is saying we did something wrong, are they saying that the entire government who made the decision and the cabinet and the board members and the counter agencies with other parties, that they all acted illegally?”.
The forensic audit was conducted by former Auditor General of Guyana, Anand Goolsarran.
Mr. Brassington said much of what is contained in the report appears to be opinions that a legal nature but are not backed up with evidence.
“On the other hand, we have many years of practice where things have been happening, and we have legal opinions that stated that we are within our jurisdiction to conduct these transactions and we have clean audit reports for many years”, Brassington assured.
He defended many of the deals carrie out by NICIL including its investment in the Marriott Hotel and the Berbice Bridge Company. He said there were no illegalities, “but many many years after doing this, Mr. Goolsarran in this audit…is commenting on legal matters in his report but does not provide legal opinions from expert attorneys.”
According to Brassington, “As far as I know, and in good faith, I have not broken any laws and if Mr. Goolsarran is suggesting it then I believe I have a clear defence on why what we did was properly done and we cannot be held responsible”.
He criticized reports in the Kaieteur News on the draft report of the audit, saying that the reports never carried the responses and he believe it was unethical for some sections of the media to be provided with a draft report even before it reached his office for a response in time for the final report.
Asked whether he is comfortable working with the coalition government after serving the previous government for all of his professional life, Brassington said he is a professional and the new government has been very professional with him.
He added that as the CEO of NICIL, there are several projects that were initiated under him, that he would like to see completed, but if the current government wants him to go, then there is nothing he plans to do to stop them.