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Sattaur to sue GRA Chairman — says has done nothing wrong
January 22, 2016

OUTGOING Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, is likely to take legal action against Board Chairman Rawle Lucas.Mr Lucas at a press briefing yesterday told reporters that Mr Sattaur had admitted to disclosing taxpayers’ information to an unauthorised source.

“The board learnt that approximately one month before the May 2015 elections, Mr Sattaur divulged sensitive information of a Guyanese taxpayer to a person who was not authorised to receive such information,” Mr Lucas was quoted as saying.

However, in a statement issued last evening, Sattaur refuted the claim. “Those are all fabrications that I find most offensive and atrocious. This is most disgusting, as I never admitted to the board that I gave out taxpayer information,” he said.

The outgoing head of GRA offered that he did admit to the board, giving information to a Diplomatic Head of Mission which the diplomat had sought, given that it was the diplomat’s information and not that of a taxpayer.

The information, according to him, was to facilitate an audit by the embassy of its records and was done in the best interest of safeguarding the integrity of GRA’s system. He noted too that it was also done to validate information received from a third party as the financial institution routinely does as part of its work, when granting large amounts of tax concessions according to the GRA’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

Further, Mr Sattaur disclosed that the Head of Mission wanted to know about his staff who was providing businesses with certification that were fraudulently obtained. “This staff is not a taxpayer and had the board sought a proper explanation from me, they would have been told that the diplomat visited my office and in my presence certified that his staff did or did not issue a fraudulent document from his mission,” he said in the statement. And having been summoned to a board meeting subsequent to these activities, Mr Sattaur claimed that he “was put on the spot” and was not granted the opportunity to explain this episode to the board.

But while he was aware of the particular question posed by the board, he maintains that he responded in a manner that did not implicate him in revealing taxpayer information to anyone. Mr Lucas also accused Sattaur of utilising six vehicles in addition to two vehicles belonging to the GRA which were also in his possession. But these statements too were denounced by the outgoing GRA head, who stated that he has always had two vehicles in his possession: a Camry and a Fortuna. He was recently relieved of his Fortuna.

NOTHING’S WRONG

As it relates to a safe belonging to GRA being stored at his home, Mr Sattaur noted that tax agency’s data was required to be stored at a safe place offsite. According to him, the location was chosen because his son, who was employed by the GRA and works in the IT Department, in a senior capacity, was given responsibility for storing this data offsite. “This is a situation that the previous board and government did not find offensive and distrustful, as a temporary measure,” he added.

This storage of the data at his home was reportedly abandoned about five years ago, and his home or that safe was no longer the repository of that information, Mr Sattaur said. “The use of the safe was discontinued years ago when a new back-up site was created at another location, but the safe continued to remain at my home to store my GRA weapon and ammunition up until recently,” Mr Sattaur said in the statement.

He also addressed the back-dating of his pension plan to 2007, when he retired in 2011, offering that he was advised by prominent lawyer Ashton Chase and the Human Resources and the Legal Department of GRA that he was entitled to those benefits under GRA’s contributory pension scheme.

These benefits, he said, were due to him from 2007, after he was made aware that he was entitled to them. He offered that the only reason he had not claimed those benefits before was because the Human Resource (HR) department had not told him that he was entitled to them, even while other persons were receiving theirs.

“After I got the approval from the HR department, I went ahead and claimed my benefits. Ms Roopnauth, the Director of Budget can attest to this. If this is so wrong why were the monies approved for payment?” the outgoing GRA head questioned.

Mr Sattaur said given these allegations against him, he has given appropriate direction to his lawyers for them to act in his best interest.

Mr Sattaur is expected to part ties with GRA on March 1, 2016,when his dismissal will come into effect.


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