Ms. Baksh avoided main points about a conspiracy to conceal mandatory info on Berbice Bridge Company

It is good that Ms. Azeena Baksh, the Registrar of Deeds responded, even if indirectly, to my blog article Conspiracy to conceal mandatory public information in SN’s letter of May 2, `Procedure on filing of annual returns clear’.

Ms. Baksh’s claim that she was extending to me “respect” by calling on BBCI to file their annual returns shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the duties of the Registrar and of the public records function of the Registry. Section 487 (2) prescribes that the Registrar “must send to [any company in default of its filing requirement] a notice advising it of the default and stating that, unless the default is remedied within twenty-eight days after the date of the notice, the company or other body corporate will be struck off the register”.

Even if Ms. Baksh were to claim that she was exercising some legitimate discretion towards BBCI, such exercise must be reasonable. The circumstances of BBCI certainly do not justify a delay of more than two years in holding its 2012 AGM. The shareholders are all resident and the accounts are pretty straight forward.

The reality is that BBCI is experiencing difficulties meeting its financial obligations and wants to delay publication of its financial statements and report of the directors until after the May elections. My understanding is that the directors have approached the PPP/C government with a number of options, including raising the toll!

Ms. Baksh also claims by way of excuse for her inaction in relation to BBCI’s 2012 and 2013 returns that the Registry is “handling backlogs for the period 2002”. She may wish then to explain how companies #6450 incorporated in 2010 and #’s 6506, 6904 and 6951 incorporated in 2011 were struck off by the Registry. Or why the PPP controlled New Guyana Company Limited incorporated in 1959 is still listed as an active company despite its illegal conduct, and egregious breaches of the Companies Act for non-filing of annual returns, changes of directors, secretary, etc.

As an aside, Ms. Baksh has been in the job since 2012 and she is now only at 2002! At this pedestrian rate, heaven knows when the Registry will have up-to-date records, its very raison d’etre.

Now to some specifics. Contrary to what Ms. Baksh’s claims, BBCI did not respond to the Registrar’s request and ask for a 28 days extension for filing their returns. What BBCI did was write her stating that the Minister of Finance had approved an extension to June 30, 2015 for the holding of BBCI’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 annual general meetings. Surely Ms. Baksh must be aware that extensions are granted subject to conditions and directions and are not a carte blanche exemption as the registrar seems to think.

May I point out too, that Ms. Baksh contradicts herself, stating in one breath that she will not put on record any document marked “Private and Confidential” and in another that BBCI’s request was placed in its file in the Registry. There is a system in the Deeds Registry that every visit I make there and any staff I engage, is noted, regardless of the official nature of my business. The Registrar would know that I visited the Registry on Friday last. My diligent enquiry concerning any developments or updates regarding BBCI contradicts her assertion.

Ms. Baksh may wish to elaborate for the public how placing a private and confidential reply on file renders “the rule of law” chaotic. And I would be most grateful if she would direct me to the provision of the law which permits her as Registrar to withhold information from the public in relation to the failure of a company to meet its statutory obligation under the Companies Act. As a member of the public I have certain rights which by her inaction and acquiescence I am being effectively denied.

Ms. Baksh has avoided the main points in my article that led to the inescapable conclusion of a conspiracy to conceal mandatory information pertaining to BBCI. In the interest of space I summarise those points: first, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh’s purported approval for the Bridge Company to extend up to June 30, 2015 the date for BBCI to hold its 2012 AGM is unlawful and void; second, even if the Minister had such authority, the precondition was not met; and third, and perhaps worse, BBCI never made an application to the Registrar for the presentation of dated accounts to any AGM and so she could not therefore approve any extension. Even at the most charitable level, unfamiliarity with certain relevant provisions of the Companies Act cannot explain this series of grave mistakes in which Ms. Baksh persists.

The unfamiliarity goes further and has even more serious consequences as seen in the botched CLICO liquidation. Despite my drawing the relevant provision to Ms. Baksh’s attention on more than one occasion, she has failed over a period of years to carry out her duty to have the statements of the Liquidator of CLICO audited, as required by the Companies Act.

At the time of her application for the position as Registrar Ms Baksh had neither the relevant training nor experience for the position. However, as luck would have it, she was appointed to the position. A country needs to have as the keeper of its public records persons whose professional competence and impartiality are beyond reproach. Ms. Baksh as the keeper of the companies’ records has a long way to go to convince many members of the public that she possesses those qualities. She can begin with BBCI and New Guyana Company Limited.

I accept that this letter is long. However I think the exchange puts our regulators under the microscope which I think is a good thing. I believe we need more accountability and reporting from all our regulators.

The PPP/C needs to rein in Jagdeo

Whatever may be the motive underlying the campaign style of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, there is widespread agreement that the rhetoric, invectives and undisguised race-baiting in all his speeches bode ill for the country.

It is true that many of the PPP/C’s more extreme, grass root supporters admire Jagdeo’s aggressive style, targeting the APNU’s African-Guyanese leaders and their supporters. But APNU too has persons with extreme views and sentiments, and who consider Jagdeo’s message grave provocation. At some point their patience and tolerance could snap. This country has made much progress in relations between the two main race groups following 1997. But that improvement must not be taken for granted and there is no doubt in the minds of more sober persons that Jagdeo’s conduct and his speeches are undermining that progress.

On March 8 at Babu John, Corentyne, Jagdeo’s target was the PNCR and its leaders in “African villages”. Jagdeo told his audience then that on elections day November 28, 2011, those persons went around the African villages beating drums and calling on residents to go out and vote to throw out `coolie people’.

Despite the grave concerns expressed about that speech from no less than the Media Monitoring Unit of GECOM, Jagdeo daringly and defiantly raised the level of vitriol at the PPP/C Albion rally on April 19, predicting that if the elections are won by the opposition, the ex-military officers in the APNU+AFC leadership would link up with the [serving] Military and go to the homes of mainly Indian audience and start kicking the doors down. The message was clear: African-Guyanese are lawless, dangerous, to be feared and not to be trusted with the reins of government.

Retired Rear Admiral Best who had earlier announced his support for the opposition coalition sought to defend his former colleagues and the serving men and women of the Army. Jagdeo then pounced on Best, questioning his integrity and demanding that Best explain the source of his wealth.

Had these come up in a less tense environment or time, Jagdeo’s call would appear ludicrous. If there is any explanation to be done for source of wealth, then surely it is by Jagdeo. After all, Best is older than Jagdeo, has worked and saved for much longer than Jagdeo, bought a house lot that is one-seventh the size of Jagdeo’s, and built a house that is a fraction the size of Jagdeo’s, with none of the grandeur.

Jagdeo it seems considers that he as a former Commander-in-Chief has the right to freedom of expression and association with the PPP/C but that his former subordinate Best has none. The truth is, and his attorney Bernard De Santos, SC might wish to confirm this and advise him, the kind of speech Jagdeo is making is not protected under Article 146 of the Constitution.

There is no question that the attack on Best by Jagdeo has caused some serious reflection at the level of officers and ranks in the Defence Force.

The PPP/C with a lacklustre campaign headed by the uninspiring Ramotar-Harper pair decided to contract out its elections campaign to Jagdeo, a man who for a long time has enjoyed and abused constitutional immunity. Even if Jagdeo’s strategy were to work in the short run, it is dangerous in the longer term. The PPP/C needs to rein him in. If it does not, then it will not escape responsibility for the consequences of Jagdeo’s race and hate speeches.

Conspiracy to conceal mandatory public information

There seems mischief afoot and a conspiracy involving Ms. Azeena Baksh, Registrar of Companies, the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) and Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance to conceal information from the public about the Bridge Company. One year after the NIS had invested nearly one billion in preference shares in BBCI, the company wrote the NIS telling its General Manager that it would not be receiving any dividends for 2014 because “the company had not made any profits”.

One of the regulatory controls of companies is disclosure to the public, mainly through an annual return. The problem is that BBCI has not filed any returns with the Registry since 2011 and has resisted every attempt to have it comply. The reason has become clearer over the past month with the Minister of Finance giving the company cover NOT to file for some time yet, even though he has no such power under the law. Even if the Minister had such power, the company had not met the conditions set out in the Companies Act for any extension of the filing date.
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Plain Talk: Elections Special: Surendra Persaud, Robert Badal and Fred Collins

Interview with Dr. Surendra Persaud, Director, Caribbean Surgery Inc.; Mr. Robert Badal, Chief Executive Officer, Pegasus Hotel; and Frederick Collins, Civil Society Activist

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The lists are replete with persons who hold citizenship in other countries

Introduction to third party letter
I have been asked by Mr. Rafiq Khan the writer of this letter who is also an attorney-at-law whether I would accommodate the corrected version of his letter. I have agreed to do so in the interest of wider information to the public on a matter which I have previously addressed both privately to GECOM and in the press.

The upcoming general and regional elections are perhaps the most important elections since those of 1992 and every citizen has a right and a duty to vote for the list of his or her choice.

Yet I regret that I will not be exercising that right or duty come May 11, 2015. My reason has nothing to do with the ability or inability of any of the contestants to properly govern the country.

My reason is based purely on a matter of principle as I perceive it. I refuse to be an accomplice to or complicit in the perpetuation of what I regard as a constitutional illegality on this country. Some of your letter writers have already alluded to it, but it does not seem to have gained the traction that it deserves. The reason, I believe, is that all political players, to use the words of Martin Carter, “are consumed” by it.

Continue reading The lists are replete with persons who hold citizenship in other countries