Admitting that there is a record of him enquiring about the price of gold shortly before leaving for Canada, former government Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandass Persaud has defended his actions saying it was for his clients.
“I have clients, who are still looking for gold and so I was negotiating with a couple of dealers, finding out the price, what it will take if you buy it in Guyana or if they ship it and we pay for it and we receive it in Canada. That is what I was doing, so I went to two dealers. (A government official) went to one of them on Robb Street and took the man’s computer. What is wrong with making enquiries?” Persaud told a Town Hall teleconference, held in Queens, New York, at which he was a guest, via phone. The meeting also had Financial Analyst, Sasenarine Singh, as a guest and about 25 persons attending.
Persaud said that he sees nothing criminal in asking about the price of gold as it is an act that many people in Guyana would undertake. “They said I wanted to buy gold. What is wrong with a piece of gold? Anyone of you would love a piece of gold, raw gold, from one of the miners so you could make jewellery for your son, wife or grandson,” he said.
Subsequent to Persaud’s departure from Guyana, reports surfaced that he was being investigated by the police. Several theories were advanced but the police have never disclosed what they are probing or what led to the commencement of the investigation.
Commissioner of Police Leslie James has remained tightlipped on the investigations and would only say that “The investigation is ongoing and, as I said prior, it’s a matter of national security.”
Persaud said that he has learned that government is investigating him and there are allegations that he was bribed in exchange for his vote but dismissed this as government being desperate.
He said that he does not mind submitting to a polygraph test to demonstrate his innocence as he voted because he believed some top government officials were bad for the country. “I will say this publicly- I don’t lie,” Persaud, an attorney at law, stated.
“Yes, I will submit to it and I’ll tell you that they cannot – the lie detector, no matter what they do with it-will not find that I accepted bribe because nobody has given me any money, up to now, to say ‘look I’m bribing you to vote.’ I vote because I wanted to vote. I just wanted to remove (PM Moses) Nagamootoo, Khemraj (Ramjattan), the AFC and people like Amna Ally and Joseph Harmon … I will submit to the lie detector test and it will not be positive. It cannot be positive so I wouldn’t have to worry what if it is,” he added.
He maintained that he did not get “a god-damn dollar” and it is ludicrous for anyone to think he could be bought.
He was asked by Guyanese Malika Clarke if given that he had spoken positively during the Budget debates on the good things the APNU+AFC government was doing, if it was all a lie. “When I spoke in favour of the budget, I spoke particularly on Region Six and over a three and a half year period, they did do roads, they did put lights, not all over the place. They worked in Region Six. They had to give us something. What I said was the truth,” he said, then trailed off talking about the reasons for his vote.
At one time he referred to Minister of Education Nicolette Henry by a derogatory name and was upbraided by Clarke who told him that the world was watching his actions against women. Persaud apologized but said he was making reference to Henry’s mix up of Guyanese holidays –Phagwah and Diwali.
Also in attendance and in defence of Persaud was former AFC Region 6 Regional Executive Officer Dr. Veerasammy Ramayya who said that Persaud had no choice but to speak positively of government’s 2018 Budget lest they removed him from parliament. After a bitter fallout with the AFC, Ramayya left the party, throwing his support behind the PPP.
Play the games
“He supported the budget, was not a bad budget, but if he had done something contrary in that budget, they could have replaced him… and this is what people don’t understand, sometimes you have to play the games to know where they are going and this is what politics is all about,” Ramayya added.
In an interview with this newspaper last week, Persaud had said that he wanted to make clear that he was not offered any current or future monetary or other benefits from the People’s Progressive Party and his return will not be to join that party.
He restated that contrary to what has been reported by some sections of the press and party supporters of government, he and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo are not friends and he does not have conversations with him and was not asked by him to defeat the government.
“I am not a friend of Jagdeo. I would see him and say ‘Good Afternoon Mr. Jagdeo’ or whatever but he and I never had a conversation. I am friends with Irfaan [Ali] and Priya [Manickchand] and so on, but no one can say I am a friend of Jagdeo’s.
It is in that vein that Persaud stressed that he was also not offered money or any political portfolio from the PPP/C and would only accept an advisory post on the basis that he could continue his law practice.
“I was not offered or did I ask to join the PPP/C. I was not offered any ministerial position, should they get into office and I would not accept a ministerial position because I want to practice,” he said.
Questioned on if he would accept an advisory or senior public service or contract position, he replied, “I can assist but I don’t intend to leave my office. If I have to leave my practice, no.”
He repeated most of what he had said in that interview saying that his mind was made up to vote against government because he felt they were not doing what they were elected to do and that he will not be campaigning with the PPP/C party . “No I will not be because I do not want to be a minister or prime minister so I will not be campaigning with them,” he said.