Friday 30 October, 2020

A&V Oil and Gas issues apology for attacks on media

A&V Oil and Gas CEO Hanif Baksh has apologised to the media for the attacks on media personnel covering the Petrotrin "fake oil" fraud allegations.

In a statement issued on Monday, Baksh offered the apology but maintained that the media workers had entered his property without permission.

Last week, Guardian reporter Kristian De Silva was reportedly beaten while taking photographs of the A&V compound. He said he had identified himself as a member of the media and was not on the company's compound but in the public street.

His camera and glasses were destroyed in the assault.

Police are investigating the incident which reportedly involved a police officer said to be a relative of Baksh.

A TV6 crew and a Newsday photographer were also reportedly attacked while on duty covering the story in the same area.

The media workers said they were not on the compound but rather filming from in the street. A video depicting the incident with the TV6 crew shows bottles being thrown at the frantic media workers while their car was parked in the street.

The Media Association, as well as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and other politicians, have condemned the attacks. 

Baksh insisted however that the incidents occurred on the company's compound.

He said while the company had "strict legal rights", it accepts that it has an obligation to cooperate with the media to provide information to the public in respect of the allegations made against it.

A&V is alleged to have inflated its oil production figures and received payment from Petrotrin for oil it did not produce.

"Those allegations impact upon the expenditure of public funds by a State-owned company and the public, therefore, has a vested right to know the relevant facts and to make its assessment in respect of those allegations," Baksh said.

Baksh further invited the media to tour the company and its facilities and view "evidence" of the company's expenditures.

The tour is scheduled for Thursday at 10 am and is expected to last for 90 minutes.

Baksh said the company would also host a media conference by Saturday along with its attorneys to answer questions posed by the media.

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