The Guyana Police Force’s was tipped off about former government Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandass Persaud’s enquiry for the purchase of US$1 million in gold by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who said he received the information from Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock.
“I got a call from the Minister Sydney Allicock indicating that there was someone wanting to give some information about Charrandass and his conduct and indeed I put them to the Commissioner of Police after speaking to Sydney Allicock,” Ramjattan said on Wednesday, when asked about his role in the investigation.
“So, as a Minister of Security, someone come and gives information you feel can go somewhere, you pass it on. It was absolutely no interference [from me],” he added.
The information, Ramjattan said, came from an Errol Ross, an employee within Allicock’s ministry and a friend of Persaud.
This newspaper understands that it was a number of WhatsApp messages between Ross and Persaud over the purchase of gold from miners in Guyana that fueled suspicion.
The messages, seen by Stabroek News, are part of the police investigation, according to sources.
Admitting that there is a record of him enquiring about the price of gold shortly before leaving for Canada in the wake of his controversial vote for the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the government, Persaud defended his actions, saying he was acting on behalf of 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.
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 investigation, saying it is a matter of national security.
Ramjattan said that while James keeps him updated on investigations, he would leave it up to the Commissioner to brief the public on the matter. “It is an important investigation that deals with parliamentarians and it deals with an AFC parliamentarian …and yes he has brought me up to date on a number of statements and findings that made me say what I just said,” he said.
“Wisdom must prevail. I will leave that up to the Commissioner. How soon you will hear? As soon as possible. I suppose before next week or probably next week,” he added. James yesterday announced that he would be holding a press conference this morning.
‘In the bag
Despite Persaud’s denials, Ramjattan said that he and the AFC believe that the former MP premeditated his actions and was induced by the opposition to vote the way he did.
“We have made our assessments. The assessment means that we have to do quite a lot of work at outreaches and the assessment is also a part from police investigations [which] indicated that it could not have been a conscience vote. It obviously blindsided us. He has done a wrong here, it was treachery and betrayal,” he said.
“He was at local government [elections] with us cussing up the PPP. He was at Cumberland at a Christmas party of Sita Nagamootoo, making a major speech to the children’s party, cussing them [the PPP] up. I have five tapes that have now been sent to me from Dave’s Television which indicate what the attitude of the man was… In the cafeteria, he was saying, ‘You know I did really want to talk too. Why y’all didn’t allow me to talk?’ And then he went and did that. …The deduction must be made that Bharrat Jagdeo had Charrandass in the bag for some time before they could have come with a no-confidence motion. It is unassailable, the deduction. It inevitable that that deduction be made; that indeed he had him in the bag. And this fellow was going around with us, up the minute the vote was taken,” he added.
He said Persaud’s deceit went further as even after the vote, when he was asked by him [Ramjattan], he indicated he would want a car to take him to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and that security be provided there also.
Ramjattan said that knowing the volatility of the atmosphere following the vote, government said that Persaud should be protected as it was felt that the David Granger-led administration would be held liable for any harm coming to him.
“At the parliamentary session, when it was coming to an end after he had voted that way, the entire opposition set of members said we must look after, as government, his security. I went up to him and ask and he said yes. That is on camera. He said he would need some security. I indicated to him what security he wants and he said the Commissioner could provide a car for him, he was going to Timehri. That is what was provided. He did not, however, take the car to Timehri. Rather, he went with [PPP member Peter] Ramsaroop and went some place and ended up at Ogle. I think the plan was him deliberately diverting me. I did not want anything to happen to him because that could have had massive repercussions. We wanted him to be secure. But, of course, you would have seen he got his own security,” he said.