Last week it was widely reported that a 29-tonne container of building materials shipped to President Jagdeo by businessman Ed Ahmad in 2009 was indeed cleared by Customs duty-free. The most important point of the news reports was that taxes on such a shipment could be waived under a law which had been available to previous presidents.
Perhaps the President could provide evidence that he paid Mr Ahmad for the imported materials and for the shipping costs. In most democratic societies there are laws placing restrictions on the receipt of gifts by all public officials including a heads of state. It should be recalled that in 2006 Mr Ahmad had made a cash gift of $40,000 to Congressman Gregory Meeks. When the FBI began investigating, Mr Meeks began a hasty scramble to legitimize the deal. The gift was allegedly converted to a loan three years after its receipt, and Mr Meeks provided proof that the loan had been repaid at 12 per cent interest. The FBI is not buying this, however, and is still investigating. Mr Meeks is also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee (House of Representatives).
Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin has not called for an investigation, so is he satisfied that this 29-tonne transaction is sanctioned within the law?