Paula Adams Diary – August 6, 1978 – Annotation

August 6, 1978- Paula Adams Homepage


  1. 50 more people are going to be charges over the next weeks for various fraud and currency violations.
  2. Wilbur Bascomb, the former General Manager of the Guyana National Coop Bank, who skipped the country before getting charged and who was under investigations, is speculated now as having known too much and was allowed to go by a couple of ministers of govt. (I don’t know who the ministers were.)
  3. Ex-minister of state for trade William Hagner was charged with fraud but has not been found. He tried to leave the country 3 weeks ago and was not allowed to leave. One week ago, the Prime Minister gave him permission to get medical care outside the country and allowed to leave. The papers are playing it up that he hasn’t been found but I heard he was given permission to leave.
  4. This “clean-up” of officials and businessmen is all people are talking about in Guyana. Every conversation is centered around this.
  5. George King, who is known as “Mr. Ten Percent” (his bribe commission for favors), was cleared by the Prime Minister in his accepting King’s resignation speech so most people think he’ll get off the hook. Others speculate he’ll still get charged.
  6. Frank Noel, the former Guystar (?) secretary, is the highest official charged so far. He is still in jail because bail was set at $100,000. He is in a Catch-22. If he puts up bail for himself, they’ll inquire where he got that kind of money because he was not making that kind of money. Mann said the Prime Minister was glad to hear he was sweating it out. The P.M. s[ai]d I hope he sweats more.
  7. The “man-on-the-street” comments are that Burnham waited until he won the referendum. Now he’s arresting all the black people. Mann s[ai]d Burnham s[ai]d that what really gets to him is that these people (like Noel) are where they are because of him (Burnham) and they’ve let him (Burnham) down. Burnham told Mann that there were more to come (more arrests).
  8. What seems to be happening is that people getting picked up are “singing” and exposing more and more people. Mann speculates there will be another 100 arrests.
  9. Rahaman (of Rahaman Sawmills) was one of the first picked up. He is one of the most corrupt businessmen in the country, I’ve been told. He has been the biggest source for getting others arrested. He has named a number of people. He s[ai]d he gave Frank Noel a car for favors received.
  10. Ministry of Trade, though, has been hit the hardest because of the foreign exchange that has been sent out of the country thru bogus import licenses. {One of my speculations on why this Ministry got it first is because of the IMF loan. There were a number of conditions which IMF set on this loan. A large degree of this is based on foreign change and hoarding rackets, therefore they needed to clean up this area first.}
  11. One of the hoarding rackets which used to go on involved government subsidies. Carnation evaporated milk was formally subsidized by the govt at the rate of 18¢ per tin of milk. They found that there were always shortages even though over the necessary Guyana consumption quota was being imported. When they investigated the matter, they found out that this milk was being smuggled into Surinam because at the govt. subsidy cost, it was cheaper than anyplace in the Caribbean and in Surinam. When the subsidy was removed last year, the hoarding and smuggling stopped because it was no longer profitable. Rice was another racket because of govt. subsidies (flour and sugar also). Part of the sugar subsidy was just removed. The sugar prices rose by 100% for Guyana consumers. (6/3/[?] to 12/21/[?])
  12. From listening into so many conversations about different “operations” people had going, it shows how much money the govt might have it the corruption was stopped. Within each ministry, there will be “clean ups”.
  13. Today Skip Roberts mother and father came over to see Neil Cheong. They are close friends of Neil’s and Skip’s dad made it clear that nothing would happen to Neil if Neil would have brought in a few banned articles (like canned corned beef, salmon, etc). I’ve been told that before that Skip’s dad has a lot of influence over his children, Skip Roberts of CIB. and Robbie Roberts, director of civil aviation. Roberts was a big man in Bookers. He is white or Portuguese and his wife is mixed black and white. He is a history book of Guyana. He told stories about characters of Guyana dating back 40 years. He made one comment about Jagan that when he was Prime Minister they had more milk in the country than they knew what to do with. He s[ai]d you could bath in it, there was such a surplus (from milk cows) but now you can’t get it at all. He also mentioned (just as a point of interest) that he uses baking soda for deodorant. He had read somewhere that it works, and he says it does. Deodorant is very expensive here and expected to be off the market because of high import costs in the next few months.
  14. The P.M. s[ai]d in his speech that aluminum can be used as the abrasive in making detergents and swine fat can be used in place of tallow in making soap. {I am just adding these points because we may be able to utilize the knowledge.}
  15. Barbados is a country which is bound on tourist economy and produces nothing. They are totally dependent on imports and give preferential treatment to Caucasian states. If we produce any commodity, that should be the first, or one of the first, places we look into for an export market. Right now their shelves stock a number of Guyanese items, I was told.
  16. I have had very little time alone with Mann for several days so I don’t know much what he personally knows.