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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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SunStone CEO: We are above board

SUNSTONE EQUITY head John Van Dyke flatly denied knowing anything about a US$500,000 wire transfer, as alleged by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal in Parliament yesterday. “If it was so, it was not to us or anything to do with us. We have always been honourable and transparent,” Van Dyke told Newsday in a phone conversation. He was not sure who Vidya Deokiesingh was. “That name does not ring a bell,” he said, saying he was involved with only the OWTU. “I only remember signing a document with Mr Roget. I’ve always met the people under Mr Roget, who do all the dog work.”

Van Dyke said the deal was an engagement document for the OWTU to engage SunStone as a banker to try to put together a deal. He said he is an investment banker who finds investors for projects and in TT, he worked with the OWTU about the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. “We are quite transparent.”

Van Dyke said his talks with the OWTU stalled as they had not yet met their financial obligations to his firm. His firm was expected to be paid soft capital/operating capital of $150,000, and later on to earn a 1 to 2 per cent commission on the US$1 billion investment package.

Van Dyke was extremely optimistic about the future of the refinery, saying, “Petrotrin has a golden future.” He said Guyana has made huge discoveries of oil which themselves are set to soon double, while nearby Suriname is about to take off as a virtual extension of Guyana’s success story. All this oil must be processed and TT has the only refinery in the region, he said.

“Petrotrin is the closest refinery to those oil fields. All Petrotrin’s capacity could be used. The refinery equity is substantial and the OWTU and its partners could make it profitable. Petrotrin is extremely viable.” Van Dyke said whether or not he is involved, on a personal note he wants to see the refinery resume and become successful. While the OWTU owes him “a bunch of funds”, he was unfazed as he sees many other opportunities in the region to pursue, such as constructing port facilities in Suriname. He was disgusted at the loss of both money and physical oil from the refinery under the former Petrotrin. “The spillage is in the hundreds of millions. I would have had a criminal investigation into Petrotrin. The money had to go somewhere. We found tens of millions of dollars worth of theft at Petrotrin,” Van Dyke said. He said a change of management style at Petrotrin could have stopped spillage and kept earnings within the company. A forensic investigation, he said, had found $800 million to have been “lost”. “Just by plugging holes we could have made it profitable, without laying off all those people.” He reckoned such a measure could have saved the jobs of Petrotrin workers. Van Dyke also lamented that thousands of gallons of oil were being physically stolen from Petrotrin, by the drivers of trucks with storage tanks with double walls. “Fifteen or sixteen trucks were coming in every day,” he noted.

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