The US$18M was not in an escrow account

Dear Editor,

In the news article ‘President says he took decision on placing US$18m at BoG’ (SN online,  December 13) President David Granger has taken full responsibility for the US$18M ExxonMobil signing bonus not being placed in the Consolidated Fund claiming that the money was in escrow for national security emergency reasons.

This is admirable of President David Granger, but the money was not in escrow at all. It was to be invested, which means the account was basically an SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund).

An escrow account tends to involve an impartial third party where the money is held in trust. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Guyana are two government agencies. So, there is no impartial third party to the transaction.

What President Granger is effectively saying would be the same as me saying that I have savings for a holiday trip to Guyana so the money is in escrow. No it is not. It would only be in escrow if the APNU+AFC government could not access the money for any other reason than legal fees in an account held by an impartial third party.

Nowhere in the letter to the Bank of Guyana did it mention escrow or legal fees. It does mention investing in secured interest bearing securities.

The account was an SWF.

What is to stop the APNU+AFC government from setting up 50 escrow accounts at the Bank of Guyana for special purposes? Clearly, the US$18M signing bonus had no oversight. The government preaches transparency and accountability but does not believe in either.

Yours faithfully,

Sean Ori

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