August 6, 1978
1. 50 more people are going to be charged 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 investigation, 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 Haynes 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.
4. 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.
5. Frank Noel, the former Guystac secretary, is the highest official charged so far. He is still in jail because the bail was set at $100,000. He is in a Catch-22. If he puts a bail for himself, they’ll enquire 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 PM said I hope he sweats more.
6. The “man on the street” comments are that Burnham waited until he won the referendum. Now he’s arresting all the black people. Mann said Burnham
said 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).
7. 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.
8. Rahoman (of Rahoman 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 sources for others getting arrested. He has named a number of people. He said he gave Frank Noel a car for favors received.
9. Ministry of Trade, thus far, 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 their loan. A large degree of this is based on foreign exchange and hoarding rockets, therefore they needed to clean up this area first.)
10. One of the hoarding rackets which used to go on involved government subsidies. Carnation evaporated milk was formerly subsidized by the govt ar a rate of 18¢ per tin of milk. They found that there were always shortages even though only the necessary Guyana consumption quoted was being imported. When they investigated the matter, they found out that this milk was being smuggled into Surinam because of 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 price rose by 100% for Guyana consumers (6 1/2¢/lb to 12 ½¢/lb).
11. From listening into so many conversations about different “operations” people had going, it shows how much money the govt might have if the corruption was stopped. Within each ministry, there will be “clean-ups.”
12. 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 before that Skip’s dad has a lot of influence over his children, Skip Robert of CID and Robbie Roberts, director of civil aviation. Roberts, Sr. 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 [Cheddi] Jagan that when he was Prime Minister they had more milk in the country than they knew what to do with. He said you could bathe 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.
13. The PM said 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.)
14. Barbados is a country which is based on a tourist economy and produces nothing. We are totally dependent on imports and give preferential treatment to Caricom 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.
15. I have had very little time alone with
Mann for several days so I don’t know much what he personally knows.
Aug. 7, 1978
1. I asked what he thought of Mingo. He said he didn’t know him except to say hello. He said, I do know he is a weak minister. He relies too heavily on the opinions of civil servants. He said, “He is very weak in comparison to Desmond Hoyte and Hubert Jack who I know very well.”
2. When I said I know you had your hand in this clean-up campaign. He said nothing in response directly to my statement, but said, “The Prime Minister feels he was let down because it was he who put them there in the first place.” He said, “Noel was always a shifty public servant, but he was energetic and capable.” He said, “The problem was that people are underpaid and when they see a way to make a few dollars to supplement their income, they take it.” He said, “You watch there will be a hundred more arrests.” He said the PM
is embarrassed because all over the world people are talking about the corruption in the government.
3. One of the reasons Mann is hurrying back to Washington is because on Thursday he has to sign some agreement, for either trade or a loan.
4. From what I can tell, Guyana is getting a number of loans this year: IMF, World Bank, and Caribbean Development Fund. In addition, they are still working on contracts for various projects such as the hydropower project.
5. On the way to the airport, Mann said, “You know on this trip I realized something which I’m only going to say once and need to say once about us. If anything happens to Juliet (his wife) and I, I’d marry you in a minute. I am not an easy person to get along with and yet you are always there to get me water, pack my poker bag. You know my moods. I’m not a highly sexual person. I can’t lay in bed all day. I like to be around people. I don’t like to talk at times. I don’t like to talk
when I’m reading. You understand me and understand my moods. That means a lot to me. I’m dead serious. I would marry you.” I didn’t say anything (with great control). I think this was the eulogy to keep me from going out on him while he’s gone. He added, “You know I wasn’t tempted even once. I’m very happy with you.” I know for a fact he tried to make it with a woman who is staying at the Palm Court. It was verified later by Raihan Cheong (Neil’s wife) who said he didn’t get anywhere with her.
Even though I think this fidelity and marriage bit is a maneuver to keep me from going out on him. He is more preoccupied with having me dressed a certain way when we go out and acting in a certain way (in a dignified manner) and because my wardrobe is not elegant enough for him, he asked for my sizes so he can get the kind of clothing I should wear when I am with him. His usual remarks are, “Take off that cheapy cotton thing, I don’t want my wife looking like that.” I don’t think this is a gambit for marriage, but it is a change from his usual
comments that Peoples Temple should buy that for you or you work for that big rich organization and they can’t even buy that for you. The point I am getting at is that I think we are in a better position for asking him about things and to do things for us. He is probably after my “inheritance.”
6. Skip Roberts’ dad said he really admired Vincent Hinds. He said look where the man was (meaning jail) and what he’s done for himself. He said the man is really bright. Everyone in the room said he will be the next to be charged. Mann said he was the one who got the job for Hinds when he came out of prison because he is such a genius with machinery and the Min of Agri (which Mann was the permanent secretary for at the time under Dr. Reid) needed some equipment put in. He said he had V.H. taken on and he got a call from the PM who said he hoped he knew what he was doing. The PM said, “I am not stupid, and he knocked me (means robbed).” So Mann went to Reid and told him what the PM said but Reid said to
go ahead and take him on. Mann said he made it so Hinds never got his hands on money any work out fine. I don’t know if Bertie Anderson kept the same reins on Hinds that Mann did.
7. Barbara Cheong, Neil’s daughter, told Raihan Cheong who then told me that Mann is not well-liked in his embassy. Everybody is afraid of him because if they are doing their job or are inefficient he will either yell at them or fire them. Barbara works at the Wash. Embassy.
8. Neil Cheong doesn’t seem to be the least worried so I doubt that he was involved in any of these bribe cases. Skip Roberts’ dad is his close friend and today Lloyd Barker called him up and asked to come over and have a chat. About what, I don’t know, but from what I can gather it was just one of many friendly visits they make to each other’s house, but I could be wrong.
They told a story about one of Barker’s close friends who Barker saw every day. The friend got into some kind of trouble and
telephoned Barker. Barker said he would have to go through the normal procedures and he couldn’t help them… Everyone agreed Barker was a man like that. If you get locked up, he won’t even help his friends, they said.
9. The Prime Minister is a man who works very late. He has called Mann more than once between 10 and 12 PM for information about various things. He is very much personally involved in getting one of his pilots to his helicopters (that crashed) the best of medical attention. He wants Mann to get him into Walter Reed Hospital. Mann said they won’t take anyone except Heads of State because they are so overworked. Mann said he tried to get some lab work done there and he can’t get past the red tape. The PM said, “Do it.” The PM has called Mann twice about it and one time called him to the residence to discuss it. The pilot’s rank in the GDF isn’t very high so Mann was pessimistic about getting him in but the PM isn’t taking no for an answer.
Aug 7, 1978
1. The new Minister of Trade, Joe Tyndall, is a personal friend of Mann’s. Mann’s wife and children stay at Tyndall’s when they come down to Guyana. Tyndall was offered the post as Trade Minister in 1968 but turned it down. He didn’t want the strain of a ministerial post. Mann said he can’t afford to take that job. Tyndall’s last job was acting Secretary-General of Caricom Secretariat. It gave him the same privileges as a Head of State with benefits of no income tax, all imports were duty-free, free house, free car, food and travel allowance, and a big salary. This in effect it is a step down for Tyndall who is a Guyanese. The Secretariat includes the whole Caribbean but is headquartered in Guyana. Mann said Tyndall has a big expensive house he is paying the mortgage on and a lot of debts. Mann said the PM must have really pressured him to get him to take the job.
Tyndall drives a Mercedes-Benz.