China Railway First Group Company Limited (CRFG) has hinted at taking legal action against Chinese businessman Su Zhirong and VICE News over the recent report of Chinese business people operating in Guyana admitting to laundering money and paying bribes to land big government contracts.
On July 7, U.S-based VICE News released an extended report on Guyana titled “Undercover In Guyana: Exposing Chinese Business in South America.”
In the 24 minute long video seen by MTV News Update, VICE News’ Isobel Yeung recorded several Chinese businessmen operating in Guyana confessing to laundering money and paying bribes to secure big government contracts.
The report referenced a number of contracts, including the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project and the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, among others.
In a statement, China Railway First Group Company Limited (CRFG) said that the report attempts to defame Chinese enterprises in Guyana.
“CRFG hereby solemnly states that CRFG has never signed any agreement with Su Zhirong, nor has it conducted any actions that were shown in the footage,” the statement said.
As for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, CRFG explained that it had bid for the project in 2008, emerged successfully in 2008, and signed the contract in 2012.
“In August 2013, Sithe Global, due to the expiration of the concession rights for the project, exited the development of Guyana Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. Ever since then, the project was long-term laid aside,” the statement further noted.
After the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) resumed office, the Request for Proposal for the Amaila Hydropower Project was publicised, and CRFG said it presented a proposal with the lowest price.
As such, the Government dedicated that it would proceed to the next round of negotiations for the project with CRFG. According to CRFG, similar procedures were followed for a number of other contracts.
To this end, CRFG said that since its presence in Guyana since 2008, it had been strictly abiding by the laws and regulations of Guyana while conducting business.
“We express strong indignation on the behaviors that VICE NEWS and Su Zhirong deliberately fabricated stories and spread such untruthful information on the internet to mislead the public and damage the reputation of our company.”
CRFG continued, “We strongly condemn such behaviors of defaming Chinese enterprises. Given such, CRFG hereby declares that it reserves the rights to seek legal actions against VICE NEWS and Su Zhirong for their reputation-damaging behaviors and the rights to claim compensations for loss so incurred to our company’s business,” the statement concluded.
On June 19, VICE News aired its first report on Guyana, which was done by Yeung. The piece, which was 14 minutes long, sought to uncover whether Guyanese Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo takes bribes from Chinese companies before awarding them contracts.
However, the report failed to link the VP to any corrupt transactions with Chinese companies.
In fact, VP Jagdeo has denied these claims and noted that he would be taking legal actions against ‘Su’ since he has tarnished his reputation.
Since the report, the main opposition – the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC) has called for Vice President Jagdeo’s resignation.
But President Irfaan Ali had called out Vice News for being sensational while noting that his Government is “above board.”