Fidelity report still to be tabled in Parliament

The Auditor General’s report into bribery allegations at the Customs and Trade Administration (CTA) that is to be tabled in Parliament is yet to reach the National Assembly, and there is no word as to when this would be likely.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, after studying the report, had indicated his intention to have it tabled in Parliament within two weeks. He said then that the contents of the report would be made public when it is tabled.

There have since been two sittings of the National Assembly following Jagdeo’s indication and the Auditor General’s report, which focuses on a multimillion-dollar fraud between customs and Fidelity Investment, is not at Parliament according to reliable sources.

Stabroek News contacted the Office of the President spokesman, Kwame Mc Coy last Friday, but he declined to say whether Parliament had received the report. He said that report would be tabled in due course, adding that “there are other pressing things before the house”.  Mc Coy suggested that the Auditor General’s report would likely have to wait in line.

The report offers details into the bribery scandal that rocked the CTA and documents a series of interviews with those alleged to have been involved.

It also contains key recommendations as regards officials at customs and a string of others allegedly tied to the fraud; suggesting that criminal charges be instituted in some instances. Specifically, the report recommends charges against Fidelity Investments, the company at the centre of the investigation and the scandal.

Sources said the investigation found that officers were openly deceptive about the contents of the containers they had examined and cleared at the wharf for Fidelity as they insisted and even falsified documents stating that soft drinks had been imported by Fidelity.

It is believed that at least one high-ranking official within the GRA, who had been embroiled in the Polar beer scandal involving Fidelity, will face disciplinary action as recommended by the task force, for incompetence; more so failing to detect the corrupt practices of officers working in that division.

Acting Auditor General Deodat Sharma recently confirmed that a forensic audit into the assets of employees at CTA is underway, as the probe into allegations of corruption there deepens.

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