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SEC asked to investigate ’corrupt’ American phone company in Guyana

USA, Columbia, Washington DC, Capitol Building

By Kathryn Myers From Florida Morning Post

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – A civic movement headed by well-known Guyanese Writer and Businessman Dennis E. Adonis, is asking the US Senate to take a closer look at the operations of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), a telecommunications service provider that is owned by the American Company ATN International, and a murky shareholding entity that is registered to a concealed clique in Hong Kong.

The movement’s primary US chapter, Guyana Liberators, which functions out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is largely loose, but have at least one goal in common; – and that it is to break what they termed as an “illegal monopoly” that is currently being enjoyed by the American company.

Before last week, the web-networking group was functioning almost without any leadership, and seemed to have become distant in their pursuit. But after the US Company allegedly continued to target a Guyana based news publication of which Adonis is a key stakeholder, the author and businessman decided to take up their cause.

According to Adonis, the company has seized every phone line belonging his media company, under the cover of two disputed phone bills, which he labelled as a concocted strategy that the company is using to muzzle press freedom.

Now, the author has angrily dumped all of his September paychecks from Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Books into the movement’s campaign efforts to bring the American company to account at the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

With cash doled out on the table now, a DC lobbyist that runs on partial fees has taken up the case, thus giving the grouping enough life to appoint Adonis as its new head of mission.

“We are all fighting for the same cause”, explained Adonis, … “I have more than enough reasons to want the horrible monopoly that GT&T has on Guyana to be let loose, – and freedom of choice to choose from one of many telecommunications service providers is certainly one of them”.

Taking a third party look at the case, former DC lobbyist Nick Holder told the Florida Morning Post that in his view, the primary objective seems to be more of a general pressure strategy that can cause the American company to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the finger pointing, as it can definitely trigger some interest from the SEC.

“Lobbying against big corporations is always a costly punishment for the pockets of those big corporations, since the complainers are generally ordinary folks that are mostly donor-supported. They hardly have anything to lose’, he said.

He further stressed that the SEC is always hungry for information, and would certainly want to see what is on the table for them to chew on, especially knowing that Guyana has been labelled as a country where corrupt dealings between big corporations and politicians are chronic.

According to Holder, “I think that the ultimate goal of lobbying here may very well be beyond breaking a monopoly in a poor country. Because if only a single act of corrupt dealing can be recognized by the SEC, that can be sufficient enough to rattle a company down. We will just have to wait and see how this goes”.

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Guyanese Taking Telecommunications Monopoly Concerns to The US Senate

By Steven Williams – From Washington Newsday

Washington DC, Capitol Building
A group of concerned Guyanese are asking a subcommittee of the US Senate to look into the operations of an American owned telecommunications company that is operating in Guyana, and to determine whether the company is engaged in unlawful practices aimed at ensuring that it maintains a monopoly on the country’s telecommunications sector.
In essence, the grouping wants the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to examine whether there are enough grounds to investigate the company for indiscretions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The company in question is Atlantic Tele- Network (ATN) which owns the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) and which is the only entity that is licensed to offer landline telephone services and data in Guyana.

But Guyanese are saying that the deal might have been corrupt from its inception. They now want the US to examine the financial trail of the initial sale of the then Guyana Telecommunications Corporation (GTC), since there is widespread belief that certain improper undertakings may have had occurred to secure the deal in the first place, and that inducements are most likely still being paid by the company to maintain and stall its monopoly on the country’s telecommunications sector.

Moreover, Guyanese are contending that they are fed up of the one-man-show that is being offered up by the company, whose charges for data services are believed to be among the highest in the world.

Leading the senate campaign is Dennis Adonis, a popular Guyanese book writer who also owns two companies in the US, and is a staffer at the Washington Newsday. One of those US companies is also a major stakeholder in the Guyana Guardian, a news entity in Guyana, which has been embroiled in a standoff with the telephone company for over two years regarding the arbitrary seizure of phone lines and data services from the media house.

The businessman has attributed the seizure of the media house’s phone lines to the company’s anger over a series of negative articles that were published about GTT and two of its managers, by the Guardian, over a two year period.

Now, the “Pastor’s Wife” author, is convinced that his company is being punished for confronting the telecommunications giant.

But for him, the real problem is the draconian control that the local telecommunications company has been exerting over the country’s landline and data services, since a competing service provider would have resolved his issues in addition to that of many other Guyanese who continue to suffer under the current monopoly.

He is now a major supporter of a network of Guyanese in the US who says that they are backing a petition to the sub-committee on Commerce of the US Senate and to the SEC, to take a closer look at the company, since they are also of the view that either unlawful concessions to the powers that may be, or well-hidden underhand dealings by ATN International is being exerted to secure the monopolistic interest of its Guyana-based telecommunication enterprise, GTT.

As of Thursday, the grouping has secured the services of a DC volunteer lobbyist, who is expected to formally submit a primary complaint on their behalf to the US Securities Exchange and Commission (SEC) on Friday, followed by the copying of the same complaint to the offices of every member of the US Senate.

The SEC is also responsible for the investigation of any American-owned company that is operating abroad, and can initiate both corporate and criminal proceedings against those companies or their officials.
On the other hand, any member of the US Senate can recommend that the SEC examine a complaint against a US company that is operating abroad.

Guyana, a former British colony on the coastline of South America is still struggling to overcome the challenges of corruption, and lacks the resources to effectively regulate large American and other foreign companies who would generally adapt to the corrupt culture, which can entail offering bribery in various forms to secure their investment position.

Guyanese strongly believe that GTT through its parent company ATN International, may have been engaged in corrupt practices, during their purchasing negotiation with the then Guyana government in order to secure what is considered to be one of the worst telecommunications sale agreement in the Western Hemisphere.

IMAGE: Washington DC, Capitol Building

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Guyana Phone Company Accused of Stifling Investigative Newspaper

By Gavin St. Clair From Weekend Spy

Georgetown, Guyana – A London based businessman who operates a news publication in Guyana has told several international major news organizations, including the New York Times, that an American owned telecommunications company in Guyana is trying to shut down his media house, the Guyana Guardian, after his newspaper had published over a dozen investigative news articles about the company in the past.

Businessman and Guyana-born author Dennis Adonis is contending that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), which is a telephone and data monopoly entity that is owned by ATN International (Atlantic Tele-Network), an American company, is using its clout in a country that is largely corrupt, to stifle the Guyana Guardian.

Adonis said that a dispute over two outstanding phone bills that his company had contested, formed the nexus of the telecommunications services provider excuse to remove several phone lines that are not even connected to the dispute. He is adamant that the company is bent on punishing the Guyana Guardian.

In a video conference on Thursday with just about 27 news editors from several news publications mainly from the United States, Canada and the UK, Adonis pleaded with them to support his efforts to pressure ATN International to end its monopoly in Guyana, and to also right the wrong that they had done to his news publication. He indicated that he is similarly scheduled to have another round of dialogue on Sunday and Monday with several other Editors from Europe and the Caribbean.

Heeding his request, at least 25 of those news editors including one from CNN, the Al Jazeera Network, and the Wall Street Journal, has committed to examine the monopolistic telecommunications practices of the company and how it is affecting the Guyanese people, and will also press the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (CEC) to examine accusations of corrupt practices by the American-owned company.

Stressing that the company is abusing its control over Guyana’s Telecommunications sector, and has the resources to maintain a line of corrupt practices, Adonis reiterated that he intends to push until an inquiry into the company’s dealings can be investigated by the United States, and Guyana alike, since his case is only one of many.

The Guyana Telephone and Telegraph company is the only company in the entire Caribbean Community that enjoys a monopoly on Telecommunications and data. The company has been accused of holding the government of this former British colony, at ransom, as it continues to make demands to have its tax evasion conduct in the country overlooked, and for the State to hand it key communication frequencies, before they can support the breaking of their monopoly.

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