President David Granger has broken his silence on the Exxon Mobil signing bonus and is making it clear that placing the US$18 Million in a government account is a legitimate government exercise which he accepts full responsibility for.
The President told reporters at State House on Wednesday that there was no intention to deceive the Guyanese public, but explained that the transaction was conducted in that manner because of possible national security implications.
He said as the head of government he made a decision not to make the information public.
“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… the money not dishonestly acquired and will not be used for purposes not intended,” he added.
Mr. Granger said while there are concerns over the money being placed in a special account instead of the Consolidated Fund, he believes at the point it was the best thing to do so as to have access to the funds should an emergency arise.
“It’s not a question of secrecy. Evidence of non-disclosure does not mean there is evidence of deception… There was no intention to deceive but I made government decision not to make it public,” he stressed.
In defense of government Ministers who had denied in the past that the signing bonus was received, the President said he is not sure that all his Ministers were aware of the transaction.
“I am responsible for everything surrounding the transaction,” he added.
The Guyana Country Manager for ExxonMobil, Rod Henson confirmed over the weekend that the company paid over a US$18 Million signing bonus to the Government, days after it was made public through the press.
The signing bonus was paid sometime last year. The Government has been coming in for criticism over its silence on the signing bonus.
Initially, the Government said no signing bonus was paid, but rather it was money to assist Guyana in its border case against Venezuela.
The Government has indicated that it will be releasing the contract signed with Exxon before the end of this year. It had come under widespread criticism for not revealing the details of the contract.