Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet has declined to say whether or not the company’s president Fitzroy Harewood resigned in relation to the current investigations over alleged fraud by one of its oil production contractors.
“I don’t want to say anything was connected. What was circulated is what is. You have to make your own assessment. He has given notice. It is a voluntary notice. If you are (working somewhere) and there is an issue you wouldn’t stay there,” Espinet told Sunday Newsday in a phone call Saturday morning.
Harewood, who has been the state oil company’s president since November 1, 2015, gave notice to the board on November 30.
In an all-staff memo released December 1, the board said it had accepted Harewood’s resignation and that his last day with the company will be February 28 “to allow for a smooth transition.”
“That was all that was circulated. He resigned and put that out to give us time (to start looking for a replacement.) He made his choice. Look at (the circular) and read it. There is no way you can infer a connection,” Espinet said, adding that Harewood made a personal decision to leave.
Espinet said he could not say any more about Harewood’s possible replacement, and subsequent questions regarding succession “will be answered as the board goes forward.”
Harewood has managed to withstand several previous calls for his head from the Opposition and the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), so his resignation was surprising when the news broke late Friday night.
Espinet, however, said at his age, nothing shocks him. He could not, however, speak to other board members’ reaction.
Former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said the company needs to be clear about the circumstances leading to Harewood’s resignation.
“It is not good enough to tell the country just that he resigned. Given the many clouds over the company, most notably the fake oil scandal, it is imperative that the company go a step further and give the reason for this resignation. In the absence of such information there will be all sorts of speculation,” Ramnarine said.
In an email to Sunday Newsday, Harewood said since he is still employed with the company, any further comment on his resignation would be best if coming from the chairman, Espinet.