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Patterson admits receiving ‘glittering’ gifts

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill shows documents indicating that agencies which fell under the purview of the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure had purchased expensive gifts for former Minister David Patterson [Adrian Narine photo)
Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill shows documents indicating that agencies that fell under the purview of the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure had purchased expensive gifts for former Minister David Patterson (Adrian Narine photo)

— Minister Edghill says gifts cost $2.4M, calls on Integrity Commission to investigate matter

AFTER being implicated in receiving a number of pricey, shiny birthday gifts from agencies that fell under his watch as Minister of Public Infrastructure, a former minister with that portfolio David Patterson has admitted to receiving the items.

Media reports have suggested that the former minister in the APNU+AFC government had denied receiving the items, but in a release on Wednesday, he said he assumed that the gifts were given in full compliance with procurement guidelines.

“In my case, at no time did I ever request, solicit or influence in any way the action of any agency in relation to the presentation of gifts to me or other officials of the government,” Patterson was quoted as saying in the press release.

Former Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

The former minister is currently the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The PAC is responsible for examining the audited accounts, as presented in the Auditor General’s Report, showing the appropriation of sums approved by the National Assembly to meet public expenditure and such other accounts laid before the Assembly as the Assembly may refer to it; and, exercising general supervision over the functioning of the Auditor General in accordance with the Rules, Policies and Procedures Manual and any other law.

It is also tasked with nominating members of the Public Procurement Commission for approval by the National Assembly and, thereafter, the appointment by the President; and to determine the emoluments and allowances of the Public Procurement Commission in consultation with the commission.

Aside from Patterson, there are three other opposition Members of Parliament on the PAC and five government members of Parliament.

According to Patterson, he had no prior knowledge of any decision or details relating to the purchase or presentation of the gifts to himself or anyone else. But he contended that the practice of giving memorabilia and other gifts to ministers is not new.

EVIDENCE

On Wednesday, during a press conference at the Public Works Ministry, Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill highlighted that the former minister had received gifts and other personal items totaling $2.64M from the various agencies under the then Public Infrastructure Ministry, over the course of his tenure. He provided documents showing the cost of the gifts and personal items that were purchased for Patterson.

As illustrated in those documents, a number of high-cost birthday presents for the minister were approved and purchased. For example, in 2016, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) purchased a birthday gift for the former minister valued at $60,000. In 2018, documents revealed that MARAD had purchased another gift that cost $384, 700 from King’s Jewellery World for Patterson’s birthday.

In May 2020, MARAD approved a sum of $704,292 “towards the purchase of birthday gifts.” Though Minister Edghill said this sum was also for Patterson’s birthday gift, his name was not mentioned on the documents as before. Other purchases were made by the Transport and Harbours Department, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, and the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC).

The least expensive gift presented to the former minister was from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in 2018, where $25,010 was spent on a “token of appreciation for Hon Minister David Patterson.”

“I wouldn’t argue with a pin that costs $25,000 for a minister…. Nobody around this table would quarrel for a $10,000 perfume set or a tie pin and cufflinks costing $10,000 or $12,000 [but] we’re talking here about the misuse of public funds,” Minister Edghill lamented.

Furthermore, Edghill also said that the junior Minister of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, had received items valued at about $1.4M from agencies under the ministry. A spreadsheet from the DHB illustrated that between June 2015 to July 2016, “donations” were made to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure valuing more than $6M

Included in these donations were items for the ministry in addition to some seemingly personal items for the senior and junior ministers. These items included electronic devices, home furnishings, and appliances.

Patterson, in the press release, however, denied receiving electronic items, instead highlighting that for security and other reasons he has purchased all the devices he owns.

INTEGRITY COMMISSION

Following revelation of the documents, Minister Edghill called on the Integrity Commission to investigate whether these gifts that were given by the agencies were declared to the commission.

“The Integrity Commission is clear, you must declare any gift of US$50 in your annual declarations for the year that you received them and if you don’t, you have made a false declaration and it is a criminal act, and you can be prosecuted in the court,” he explained.

The Integrity Commission Act, which makes provisions for the purpose of securing the integrity of persons in public life, states that those in default “shall be liable, on summary conviction to a fine of $25,000 and to imprisonment for a term not less than six months nor more than one year…”

The act continues, “… and where the offense involves the non-disclosure, by the declarant, of property, which should have been disclosed in the declaration, the magistrate convicting the person shall order the person to make full disclosure of the property within the given time, the said offense shall be deemed to be a continuing offense and the person shall be liable to a further fine of $10,000 dollars for each day on which the offense continues.”

He further stated, “If they weren’t declared, let the law be pursued by them having charges and prosecution because we must have compliance. Public officers must behave in a responsible manner.”

‘RESIGN FROM PAC’

Earlier in the week, when a probe first revealed the gift-buying situation within the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Minister Edghill called for the former minister to abstain from his role as chairman of the PAC, where government spending for 2016 is currently being scrutinized.

On Wednesday, Minister Edghill said, “I am calling on him to do the decent thing and resign as chairman of [the] PAC.”

But Patterson, as reported by another news outlet, said that he will not resign from the PAC and stated that Minister Edghill is making some “unproven allegations.”

Patterson’s press release noted, “… the lies and the so-called revelation of the gifts are a deliberate and blatant attempt at character assassination for political purposes, which will not succeed in derailing his objective of overseeing the government’s expenditure and procurement practices through his chairmanship of the PAC and representation of the Guyanese people in Parliament.”

But Minister Edghill emphasized that there is no political intention behind the revelation of the “misuse of public funds,” neither is there any plan to besmirch or sully the former minister’s character.

https://guyanachronicle.com/20...OQP8DgmBOt6hvXDjv5oE



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The best way to describe this is that everyone associated with the PNC, the misuse of public funds bound to rub off. The 50% salary increase to keep ministers happy to keep them out of corruption didn't work for any of them. Amna Ali/Buju Banton lottery funds is another unique example where ministers would dive into money that doesn't belong to them. Thief, but do something for the country too. 

@Viper posted:

Patterson admits receiving ‘glittering’ gifts

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill shows documents indicating that agencies which fell under the purview of the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure had purchased expensive gifts for former Minister David Patterson [Adrian Narine photo)
Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill shows documents indicating that agencies that fell under the purview of the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure had purchased expensive gifts for former Minister David Patterson (Adrian Narine photo)

— Minister Edghill says gifts cost $2.4M, calls on Integrity Commission to investigate matter

AFTER being implicated in receiving a number of pricey, shiny birthday gifts from agencies that fell under his watch as Minister of Public Infrastructure, a former minister with that portfolio David Patterson has admitted to receiving the items.

Media reports have suggested that the former minister in the APNU+AFC government had denied receiving the items, but in a release on Wednesday, he said he assumed that the gifts were given in full compliance with procurement guidelines.

https://guyanachronicle.com/20...OQP8DgmBOt6hvXDjv5oE

Perhaps, Patterson is absolutely unaware that his actions must be beyond reproach.

PAC can file No-Confidence Motion to remove Patterson as Chair – AG

https://i0.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/David-Patterson.jpg?resize=300%2C219&ssl=1

Former Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson

Amid mounting calls for David Patterson to resign as Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Attorney General Anil Nandlall has explained that a motion of No-Confidence can be moved against the opposition Member of Parliament.

Calls have been mounting for Patterson to be removed as Chairman PAC after he admitted to receiving millions of dollars in gift items from agencies and departments under the then Public Infrastructure Ministry, which he headed in the previous APNU/AFC administration.

Patterson was appointed Chair of the PAC in December 2020.

When contacted on Thursday, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, noted that there is nothing Parliament can do at this moment.

https://i2.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/clerk.jpg?resize=696%2C463&ssl=1Mr. Sherlock E. Isaacs, Clerk of the National Assembly.

He explained that as it is, these are allegations and according to the Constitution of Guyana unless Patterson is charged and convicted for criminal conduct then they cannot intervene.

The Clerk noted that it will be up to Patterson to decide whether he will step down or not.

Efforts by this publication to contact Patterson were futile. Calls to Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, also went unanswered on Thursday.

When asked where the PAC can do anything in this situation if Patterson refuses to resign from Chairmanship, Nandlall, said “The Committee itself can move a motion of no-confidence against Patterson being the Chairman of that Committee.”

https://i0.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Anil-Nandlall2.png?resize=696%2C411&ssl=1Attorney General Anil Nandlall

However, Nandlall contended that this is a question of morality and leadership. He pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee is the most fundamental mechanism in a parliamentary democracy to scrutinise the financial accountability of public expenditure.

“How can the person, who chairs such a unit, commit such an egregious and flagrant transgression against accountability and financial propriety as Patterson did and still continue to chair such a committee. It’s a question of public confidence, it’s a question of the moral authority of he who holds the Chair of such a committee and I dare say, that MP Patterson has disqualify himself from holding such a position,” the AG asserted.

He went on to to outline that Patterson has already admitted to receiving these items so the question of whether they were proper or improperly procured is now irrelevant.

According to Nandlall, “The acceptance by him of those items is what is palpably wrong. Moreover, he’s required to disclosed them as a matter of law to the Integrity Commission under the Integrity Commission Act. I could bet my bottom dollar that he did not do so. How can a minister accept gifts from a Department under his Ministerial portfolio purchased with public funds such as personal jewellery and bedroom furnishings?”

The Attorney General further noted that this is the most “obnoxious form of corruption and graft.” Her then questions how can the nation now reposes trust and confidence in such a person to exercise parliamentary oversight on matters such as misuse and abuse of funds, corruption and lack of accountability.

Asked whether the PPP/C Government will be taking any actions based on these findings, Nandlall said that the matter is under consideration.

I saw it and wondered. For all the oil money I expect see super things. Was in Abuja some years ago and I saw roads, man they were roads, under construction, built by an Israelie company paid in oil. Nothing new, bartering, Bookers use to pay Fletcher Stewart with sugar.

@seignet posted:

I saw it and wondered. For all the oil money I expect see super things. Was in Abuja some years ago and I saw roads, man they were roads, under construction, built by an Israelie company paid in oil. Nothing new, bartering, Bookers use to pay Fletcher Stewart with sugar.

It's only 6 months since the PPP/C took over from the coalition. Super things are yet to come.  Rome was not built in a day or two.

Abuja's problem is not Guyana's problem. Even the most developed countries do some kind of bartering.

Harbour Bridge, other agencies knew buying gifts was prohibited by law

, Source - https://newsroom.gy/2021/01/25...s-prohibited-by-law/

https://newsroom.gy/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/WhatsApp-Image-2021-01-25-at-12.04.09-PM-1.jpeg

Budget agencies, including the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation, were well aware that the purchasing of gifts and merchandise, was not allowed under the country’s financial laws and were in fact told not to do so.

A budget circular dated June 28, 2018 and another circular from the Ministry of Finance on December 17, 2018, made this clear.

But despite the written caution against the act, which included clear guidelines against the usage of public funds for the purchasing of gifts for staff, several agencies under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure at the time still went ahead and purchased expensive jewelry and other items as gifts for former Ministers David Patterson and Annette Ferguson.

The Ministry of Finance circular, signed by Finance Secretary Michael Joseph, made reference to a budget circular which stated that “gifts and merchandise related to occasion specific or ministry-specific paraphernalia and gifts must be reduced.”

This was in June 2018.

The second circular sent out by the Ministry of Finance six months later said that although the budget circular was sent out it was brought to the Ministry of Finance’s attention that several budget agencies were proposing to present monetary vouchers and other gifts to staff for the holidays by utilizing public funds.

That circular reminded that agencies that such acts were “not permitted” under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).

“There shall be no expenditure of public monies except in accordance with article 217 of the Constitution,” the circular noted, citing Section 16 of FMAA states.

The circular also noted that purchasing of gifts was also unbudgeted and not approved.

“As such, given that the aforementioned activities, for this or any other holiday, have never received the approval of the Ministry of Finance, nor have they been presented for consideration or appropriation by National Assembly, any related payment by any (Head of Budget Agency) is prohibited,” the circular of December 17, 2018 stated.

But despite receiving clear instruction that the act was prohibited, several agencies still purchased gifts.

According to information released by Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill, Patterson, during his tenure as Minister of Public Infrastructure, received from Agencies under his control, gifts and personal items totaling $2.646M.

In May 2020 gifts were purchased for the Minister’s birthday by the Maritime Administration Department to the tune of $704,292.

On the same date, there was another gift purchased for $387,486.

On 4th May, 2017 a gift was purchased for the Minister by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), another agency that fell under his purview. That gift was purchased in the sum of $117,200 from King’s Jewelry and had Patterson’s initials ‘DP’ engraved.

May 3rd 2018 and May 4th, 2018 two purchases were made and the voucher said payment for gifts for Minister Patterson’s birthday to the tune of $300,000.

There is a letter signed to the Maritime Administration on May 3rd, for the approval of the gifts.

The Transport and Harbours Department also purchased gifts for Patterson on May 4th, 2017 in the sum of $76,818. On May 6th, 2020 he received another gift for $54,720 and the receipts are there to prove.

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport on the 7th May 2018 made a purchase for a cross pen for $25,000 which is in moderation.

Edghill claimed that the two former Ministers took gross advantage of their position and severely abused the treasury of the Demerara Harbour Bridge and other agencies between June 2015 and July 2016. The items purchased for the Ministers include:

–        Apple Ipad air $213,000

–        Dell laptops (2)

–        Television set

–        Printer

–        Cocktail tables

–        Dresser

–        Rugs

–        Book Shelf

–        Samsung Galaxy phone valued at $203,000

–        Vacuum Cleaner

–        King bed set

–        Mattress

–        Chest of Drawers

Patterson, Adams granted $200k bail on conspiracy to defraud charge

https://newsroom.gy/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/PATTERSON--750x430.jpgFormer Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) Corporation Rawlston Adams

Former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and former General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) Corporation Rawlston Adams were Monday jointly charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to a $162 million sole-sourced contract handed out in 2016 while both gentlemen held their substantive position.

They appeared before Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court after Chief Magistrate Ann McLennon recused herself from hearing the case. McLennon is reportedly friends with both Patterson and Adams.

The duo was not required to plea to the charge which was laid indictable. They were released on $200,000 bail each.

Attorney Glen Hanoman appeared for Adams. Both Adams and his attorney refused to speak to the media.

Attorney Ronald Burch-Smith leads the defence team for Patterson which also includes Attorney Nigel Hughes.

Hughes said the defence believes the charge is unfounded even as the two are expected to return to court on February 15. “The institution of these charges seems to be political,” he added.

Patterson did not speak to the media on the advice of his legal team. He was greeted outside the Courthouse by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and several other Opposition Parliamentarians who held placards and chanted “patto deliver.”

It is alleged that between November 18, 2016, and February 1, 2018, they conspired together with each other and persons unknown to defraud the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation of $162,635,015.

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) had been investigating the matter.

Patterson is being made to answer for his decision not to re-tender the contract for the feasibility study and design of the new crossing after a previous procurement process was annulled.

He reportedly facilitated the award of the contract through sole sourcing, instead of going through the Procurement Board, as the law says should be done.

The report from the investigation conducted by the Public Procurement Commission noted that the bid from Dutch company LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and it was granted.

The report stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts) under the Management of Adams at the time.