Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon this morning said that the transaction between President Bharrat Jagdeo and businessman Ed Ahmad which saw the latter shipping some 29 tonnes of building materials to President Jagdeo at State House is a private one and only the two of them can speak on the issue.
Dr Luncheon was asked by Stabroek News during his weekly press conference at the Office of the President for a response on a report in the New York Post that Ahmad had shipped the material to the president in 2009. The Post had cited shipping documents as the source of its information.
“With regards to the shipment of goods by the businessman to the president, I would still be constrained by a private transaction and were the President or Mr Ahmad, the two principal parties, were they inclined to make this a public issue that may very well be the beginning of a suitable response,” Dr Luncheon said in response to the question.
The Post had reported that Ahmad is a frequent visitor to Guyana and is known in the country as a friend of President Jagdeo. It said too said that the relationship appears to transcend friendship and to involve business interests.
It said that in 2009, the Ahmad Group sent building supplies – including roof tiles and kitchen sinks – to Jagdeo at state house in Georgetown, according to shipping records. Jagdeo is in the process of building and furnishing a new house at Pradoville 2.
Two weeks ago Ahmad, who is on US$2.5M bail for allegedly defrauding a lender, Countrywide Home Loans, in connection with the purchase of properties in Queens in 2007, was denied permission to travel to Guyana.
The Post had said that Ahmad’s “close ties” with Guyana were among the objections raised by Assistant US Attorney Alexander Solomon in opposing the businessman’s request during a hearing in Brooklyn federal court
President Jagdeo when asked about Ahmad had said he had been friends with him for around 15 years but would not condone any wrongdoing.
He had also reiterated that Ahmad had helped the PPP support group, the Association of Concerned Guyanese (ACG) but has not contributed any money to the campaign of the party’s Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar.
“If Ed Ahmad broke the law in New York, then he must face the consequences but I can’t deny knowing somebody, I know him very well,” the president had said.
Observers have noted that Ahmad was able to successfully bid for a large swathe of former sugar lands at Leonora on the West Demerara and has also set up a hardware business on the premises of the Mirror newspaper at Industrial Site. The Mirror is the semi-official organ of the People’s Progressive Party. As these transactions are close to the government and the ruling party, the observers say it is important that President Jagdeo explain the terms of the transaction between him and Ahmad.
Letters writers and other commentators have also queried whether the relevant taxes and duties were paid on the transaction.