Kaieteur News publisher Glenn Lall has withdrawn the complaints he made against Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Com-missioner-General Khurshid Sattaur to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana (ICAG) and its UK-based parent body, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), sources say.
Lall had accused Sattaur, who is a member of the ICAG, of abusing his office and breaching secrecy regulations by leaking confidential information on a taxpayer. The complaints stemmed from detailed tax information on the country’s independent daily newspapers which were contained in email exchanges purportedly sent from Sattaur to former president Bharrat Jagdeo.
Lall had charged that Sattaur went beyond his boundaries to give out this personal information to Jagdeo, who is a private citizen.
The dropping of the complaints comes days after the GRA dropped a multi-million dollar tax evasion case against Lall, his wife Bhena and a remigrant couple, which has raised questions about its timing. Observers believe that this was part of the settlement made to have the tax evasion case against the quartet withdrawn.
To date, the details of the settlement remain a mystery, with Sattaur saying that it is a private matter and that the law makes provision for settlements. It is unclear if in exchange for dropping the charges the Lalls and the remigrant couple were made to pay a portion of the approximately $100M in taxes that the GRA claims the quartet attempted to defraud it of.
When asked about the withdrawal of his complaints, Lall, who is abroad, said he did not know what this newspaper was referring to.
Stabroek News, despite efforts, was unable to make contact with the president of the ICAG Ronald Alli or any member of the body’s Disciplinary Committee.
In October last year, amidst an escalating war of words between Lall and Sattaur, the Disciplinary Committee of the ICAG revealed that it was investigating an allegation of misconduct made against Sattaur.
Sattaur, in turn, accused the members of the accountancy body of colluding with Lall, to discredit him. Sattaur is a member of the ICAG.
Sattaur went further to accuse members of the ICAG of bias in investigating the complaint and demanded the process be brought to an end immediately, while stating that he was considering reporting the body for misconduct and malpractice to ACCA. It is unclear if Sattaur had done so.
It is unclear also how far the ICAG had gotten with the investigation. Lall made his formal report to the ICAG on October 7 last year.
The steps taken by the ACCA to investigate Lall’s complaint are also unclear. ACCA received the complaint from the publisher on October 22 last year.
The ACCA had requested Lall to provide some information no later than November 5 last. It is unclear if this had been done.
Some of the information requested related to whether Lall would come forward and give evidence, including copies of all relevant documents.
The Kaieteur News had published what appeared to be email exchanges between Sattaur and Attorney-General Anil Nandlall discussing actions to be taken against the newspaper, which contended that it was the target of a plot to shut it down. The GRA subsequently announced an internal probe of the leak of confidential information, while also claiming that the emails published by the newspaper were fakes.
“I am ready to die and ready to go down fighting,” Lall had declared then, before adding that Sattaur’s email correspondence speak for themselves. He said copies of these emails and others had been handed over to ICAG and ACCA to aid them in their investigations.
Lall and Sattaur had been locked in a battle ever since it was revealed that Lall was under investigation by the GRA for reportedly being involved in a remigrant duty-free concession scam. Lall, his wife and the remigrant couple, Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, were subsequently charged.