Director of Sport Christopher Jones yesterday denied that he acted improperly in the execution of his duties and said that allegations of improper conduct which appeared in the Kaieteur News stemmed from envy and were politically motivated.
In a statement sent to the media yesterday Jones said though he disliked discussing such issues publicly he was forced to do so in an effort to defend his character.
The director was responding to an article which alleged that he paid his Personal Assistant, Brian Smith, the sum of $3m for works carried out not by Smith, but by three companies which performed cleaning and other services during the 2016 Inter-Guiana Games.
“It is never my intention to discuss these issues in the public domain,” wrote Jones adding …” unfortunately, the issue was placed in the public domain and therefore I must defend my good character.”
The allegations were contained in the Kaietuer News article of May 9th 2017 under the headline, ‘National Sports Commission Director allegedly pays assistant $3M for doing nothing’.
Jones, in his statement said that the article was based on falsehoods.
“I wish to unequivocally state that this article is based on falsehoods and I reject any assertion or allegation of improper conduct on my part as Director of Sport. At all times I have executed my duties with the highest level of integrity and within the law. Further, I have forged strong relationships between the National Sports Commission and all national and other sporting bodies as I have worked assiduously to raise the profile of sports in Guyana.”
According to the Kaieteur News article, prior to making out the cheque in Smith’s name, Jones had instructed Radhika Sukhai, the accountant at the National Sports Commission, to make the cheque payable to one Mr. Harry.
Jones’ statement yesterday did not address the issues highlighted by the Kaieteur news article.
He did, however, speak of his relationship with the various sports organisations that he interfaces with.
“Mine is a tireless and thankless task but one which I pursue with enthusiasm, zeal and a passion for the sector.
“From my interactions with the various sporting organizations I have every reason to believe that I enjoy a high level of confidence and trust from the entire sporting fraternity. This has been achieved even as I have operated under severe internal constraints and with limited resources – the details of which I do not wish to disclose at this time. Nonetheless, my work in sports is on public record as is my achievements and performance in the sector,” he wrote.
It has been alleged that Jones and the Minister Responsible for Sport Nicolette Henry do not enjoy the best relationship and a story to that effect had appeared on an online website before being pulled.
Sources told Stabroek Sports yesterday that it was Minister Henry who ordered the audit into the finances of the NSC and that a report had subsequently been compiled detailing instances where Jones had breached the financial regulations as it pertains to spending.
Efforts to contact Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Ivan Persaud for a comment proved futile.
Jones, however, has said the allegations were politically motivated.
“I have every reason to believe that this article is part of a naked attack on my person, character and integrity which is politically motivated.
“Further, it is my view that the intellectual authors of this attack are steeped in envy of the achievements of the NSC and the consequent positive public attention which has followed. I do not believe that it is any coincidence that this attack has come mere weeks after the successful and critically acclaimed NSC Sports Awards at which the medallists of Guyana’s CARIFTA team were awarded University of Guyana scholarships by the NSC.
Jones said he was pleased to find out that an investigation was on the cards adding that he was confident that he would be vindicated.
“I am pleased to have read that an investigation is being conducted. I commit my full and unreserved cooperation with same as I am confident that I and my team at the NSC will be completely vindicated.
“Further, I call for an independent investigation in uncovering the intellectual authors of the article and that those culpable have appropriate action taken against them by the relevant authorities.
“The source of the Kaieteur News article is unfortunate but as a disciplined public servant, I shall say no more,” Jones’ statement ended.