Rodrigo De Paula, a Brazilian investor and businessman who made substantial investments in Guyana, has felt compelled to produce a documentary describing his devastating experiences in the country, with the dual aim of recouping stolen assets, monies, and resources, and revealing instances where the justice system fails to deliver justice to those who recourse to legal redress in Guyana.
In this production, de Paula brings to the public arena details of his travails – his victimization by criminals, and the way law enforcement bodies seem to be complicit with the activities of criminals in Guyana.
De Paula, who first came to Guyana in early 2006, claims he had all his assets and monies in the country misappropriated and was victimized through a criminal conspiracy, with the collusion of local authorities, to rob him and his businesses of all his considerable investments; and despite his recourse to the law, has failed in his innumerous attempts to recoup his properties and monies.
Moreover, the law-enforcement dynamics seemed to be his major enemy where misconceived Court Orders against him and his Companies were appointed as the major responsible for destroying his businesses completely. The absolute disregard of the court in face of the successive breaches of the lawful Court Orders he had obtained against the transgressors makes him to believe that trusting in the honesty of the justice System of Guyana was his biggest mistake.
In this video production, De Paula describes the circumstances that encouraged him to invest in Guyana and the visible contributions he brought to the country; as well as the shocking treatment he received, peaking with his inexcusable and unlawful imprisonment by police in July of 2011 in an overfull and violent jail as an evident act of terrorism against the Brazilian investor.
The video is named “The Devastating Experiences of a Brazilian Investor in Guyana” and the businessman does not intend to stop with this one instance, but to pursue justice until the authorities take cognizance of the fact that the methodologies and practices of the justice system in Guyana fails consistently, and suspects intentionally, in delivering justice to those who abide within the confines of the law.
Rodrigo de Paula is a Brazilian national who came to invest in Guyana and ended up building pioneer businesses in the scrap metal and sand export fields. He has made massive investments in the country and was responsible for establishing two companies: Start Metal Trading Inc. and Guyana Sand Port Inc. Both businesses were completely stolen from him in 2011 through criminal actions and fraudulent conversions coordinated by unscrupulous individuals, who were helped by corrupt law-enforcement ranks to misappropriate his assets and finances.
Rodrigo de Paula:
De Paula is an internationally-recognized, qualified and capable professional and entrepreneur. He simultaneously studied Civil Engineering and Business Administration at two top-ranked Brazilian Universities: Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais.
In 2001 De Paula studied International Business at Christchurch Polytechnic, New Zealand. The investor also holds an E-MBA degree from Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil; with further specialization at Harvard Business School in International New Ventures.
Relevance of Rodrigo de Paula to Guyana:
De Paula’s first company in Guyana, START METAL TRADING INC. was launched in 2006, emerging as a pioneer project, solely responsible for the removal of unwanted old metals proposed to be recycled in Brazil. The rusted and abandoned metal frames of vehicles and other scraps that littered the streets of Georgetown in early 2006 were both unsightly and a traffic hazard, and their removal was an expensive proposition for the administration, which had many more pressing calls on its highly-constrained budget; so Start Metal was a boon to the socio-economic dynamics of Guyana, especially as it provided jobs for Guyanese and wealth-creating synergies for correlating businesses that sprang up in conjunction with Start Metal.
Thus the project effectively brought a solution for a major environmental and social problem in Guyana at that time, i.e: The disposal of light-mixed scrap metal that littered the streets and was a veritable eyesore that defaced the panoramic landscape in an otherwise very beautiful country.
Clearing such a type of scrap metal was an exceptionally complex proposition because it could not have been exported in containers due to its low density and high level of impurities.
De Paula, who is an Engineer with many years of experience in financing international logistic ventures, then designed a pioneer project in partnership with Brazilian Company GERDAU S/A, a large steel manufacturer in Latin America.
It was the first time in the globe that the export of light scrap metal was made feasible in bulk cargo. To accomplish his idea, De Paula developed solutions to collect, stockpile, press and fit scrap metal into ships, using return freight solutions to make costs relation a feasible factor.
In synchronization with the number of jobs generated and substantial wealth creation that he facilitated in the country, his company START METAL TRADING INC., also contributed to the enhancement of the environment, especially when we compare the roads throughout the country of today and before his pioneer project was launched in 2006, when derelict vehicles and other unsightly scrap metals had lined both sides of roadways all over the country. De Paula’s Company has removed approximately 6,000 metric tones of unwanted light & mixed metals from the streets.
Sand Export Business:
Specialized in identifying international business opportunities, De Paula had become impressed with the beauty and quality of the sand in Guyana when, in 2006, he was in the country conducting feasibility studies for the scrap metal venture.
While holidaying in the Caribbean Island of Barbados he recognized that the said Island was facing serious environmental problems with its beaches by illegal sand mining. Sand is a limited resource in the islands and it was getting progressively more expensive, causing locals to illegally extract the sand from the beaches.
De Paula surmised that other Caribbean Islands would have the same problem so he reconnoitered the situation and, after a few trips, confirmed his suspicions. He was then envisioning a solution to the Caribbean sand crisis, where the white sand from Guyana would be the best viable option.
To facilitate this second pioneer initiative in Guyana, De Paula established the GUYANA SAND PORT INC., which became the exclusive source of sand for many Caribbean Islands subsequent to its launch.
Corruption and Injustice:
However, this Brazilian investor and the companies that he established, received in exchange from Guyana the invasion, in 2011, of his properties, his finances looted, his assets and all resources misappropriated, and his legally-binding contracts repudiated all at once in a stunning drama that certainly brings shame to this nation.
And although he sought recourse for justice through legal avenues in the local justice system, all his attempts have been thwarted by seeming indifference of the authorities and corruption within law-enforcement entities.
In July 2011, De Paula was even unlawfully arrested by police who were openly and blatantly infracting the law and was put in an overfull and filthy jail with violent criminals for 3 days without any logical allegation or subsequent charge, although he was the clear victim acting within his legal rights. And there was no doubt in his mind that the police were bribed, as they stood by while he was violently attacked and beaten by a very aggressive mob before arresting him.
Such violence and humiliation meted out to him, he is convinced, are part of a diabolic plan architected by unscrupulous protagonists directly responsible for his travails, who were trying to intimidate de Paula to make him fearful for his life and return to Brazil so they could steal his valuable assets without resistance or hindrance.
Having exhausted all the avenues through which he sought justice, with no redress, De Paula has been forced to go public with his story in the hope that this generates the desired outcome whereby he is eventually enabled to recover his investments, his good character, and justice against the perpetrators: Thus the production of a video documentary whereby De Paula describes details of his devastating experiences in Guyana, which was just released on local TV and Internet.
According to De Paula, it took approximately a year to compile the relevant data and relate the facts in a compact version, created especially for broadcasting in the local TV. This documentary was made in English, with subtitles in Portuguese.
The Video-Documentary is also publicly available in the internet. De Paula expects the video will help him to get justice for all the indignities, losses and pain he has suffered in the hands of the unscrupulous persons who conspired to misappropriate his assets, finances and businesses and impugn his character; as well as cause him public humiliation and physical harm, with even threats to his life.
The businessman claims that adjunctive to psychological traumas and public humiliation, he incurred financial losses of in excess of GY$4 Billion, equivalent to US$20 Million, caused though fraudulent conversion and outright thefts of his finances and misappropriation of his assets that lead all his high-valuable businesses to ruin.
The computation of losses however, does not include potential earnings lost, and other damages that cannot be estimated. All losses are directly attributable to the Justice System in Guyana, which, according to the businessman, should be in charge of compensating him in the event that he cannot recoup all his losses from the protagonists of his story.
Joseph Bhaskaran, is a Sri Lankan national who was extremely impoverished when De Paula first met him, in early 2006, as a modest caretaker in the property leased by the Brazilian for a 12-year period. Bhaskaran was then living in a dilapidated hut with his poor family and was practically adopted by the Brazilian, who facilitated him with loans, provision of equipment and business opportunities to empower himself and simultaneously financially and socially enhance his life and lifestyle and that of his family.
However, in a vicious campaign of corruption Bhaskaran went from poverty to luxury through fraudulent acts and outright thefts committed against the Brazilian and his Companies. Bhaskaran, whom was highly indebted to the Brazilian businessman, decided to make a major financial haul in de Paula’s businesses while the latter was attending a wedding in Brazil in May of the year 2011. On that occasion, the Srilankan blatantly stole finances from de Paula’s companies, assumed control of his assets, misappropriated his property – effectively barring him out, and started to make successive life threats against him.
This was all done with the open complicity of police ranks and seeming enablement by the Guyana’s judiciary, which seems to subvert the legal processes, pretending ingenuous lack of awareness and their subsequent approach to matters in front of them.
Roopnarine Persaud, is one guyanese businessman, owner of the property leased by De Paula in Coverden on which heavy investments were made, based on long-term contracts valid until December 2017. Persaud repudiated legally binding, long-term agreements, which were the base for substantial investments made by De Paula in his property. These included building a brand-new wharf and supporting infrastructure and a conveyor system to facilitate bulk loading and discharge of cargo directly onto and from ocean-going vessels.
The documentary would show how Persaud revealed himself to be an unscrupulous businessman who joined in conspiracy with Bhaskaran to steal the substantial investments in Port facilities and Heavy Port Equipment made by the Brazilian in his property. Persaud is also mentioned to be, along with Bhaskaran, the co-architect of De Paula’s unlawful arrest and detention in a jail with 40 prisoners in 2011 as one of the violent acts of intimidation against De Paula.
Aleah Bhaskaran, is the Guyanese-born wife of Joseph Bhaskaran, whom has been proven to be his co-conspirator, lending him credibility in the Guyanese business and social landscape, making public appearances at his side and participating in all his criminal activities and fraudulent actions against the Brazilian investor, even fraudulently affixing her signature to many illegal documents.
The message behind the Story:
These three main protagonists, Roopnarine Persaud, Joseph Bhaskaran and Aleah Bhaskaran are ordinary people who managed to architect an ingenious conspiracy against the Brazilian investor. Besides the architects being average persons, De Paula had no effective legal redress to enforce his rights, once local authorities seemed to have joined in conspiracy with the protagonists either for bribes or other unknown reasons.
The Documentary shows that De Paula was not a common investor. The presence of the Brazilian ambassador and the Prime Minister of Guyana in the official opening of his Company demonstrates the authenticity and recognition of his investments by heads of both countries in Guyana.
Considering that such disregard was shown to De Paula’s travails, even in view of his highly recognized international entrepreneurial profile, the businessman is appalled at the plight of the ordinary citizen of the land.
De Paula concedes that such scams and deceptions, etc. are committed all over the world; However, it is his contention that it should be the country’s responsibility to ensure investors – or anyone are able to enforce their rights when facing such unfortunate situations; not the opposite. Therefore, De Paula is asking the help of the government authorities to resolve his dilemma and further to avoid that similar circumstances happen in the future.
On 26th of July 2011, De Paula was arrested while trying to remove intruders who had taken control of his properties and assets at Lot 9, Coverden, E.B.D.
He alleges that the police were being bribed to allow the intruders to exploit his assets, forcing him to engage private personnel to help him to enforce a Court Order that he had obtained to that effect from the High Court of Guyana on 1st July 2011.
Amazingly, while trying to enforce his rights, the Brazilian was arrested by the same corrupt police, which accused him of trespass, despite the validity of his court documents.
According to the police, the Brazilian was trespassing on the site of his own companies, which could be legally accessed only by him and anybody he so authorizes.
De Paula was put in an overfull and filthy jail with violent criminals with no logical allegation as a clearly paid action of intimidation. The businessman also says that persons were deliberately put inside the cell to intimidate him through violence and psychological terrorism, which could be attested to by other prisoners who witnessed his ordeal.
De Paula says he could never again have a normal life after that horrifying experience and questions how he could be arrested and locked up for trespassing on his own property.
De Paula says he experienced the worst 3 days of his life in prison. He was released after 3 days without any charge because by then the authorities understood that he could not have trespassed on his own properties.
Privileges and rights denied:
De Paula has been granted by the Brazilian laws the privilege of having a special individual jail in the disastrous event of any imprisonment. Such privilege was given to him as well as to other fortunate Brazilian nationals who have a recognized elevated degree of education and social status.
De Paula has also the right accorded anyone in any country of “Presumption of innocence” in light of any accusation against him. The right of freedom is also given to all Brazilian citizens.
Besides being protected by the laws and privileges acquired in his country, as well as having never committed any single crime in his life, De Paula was put in a collective overfull and violent jail with no regards to the privileges and rights he acquired as a citizen of his country.
The fact that De Paula was deprived of all his privileges and rights, as related in the video documentary, reveals that Guyana has no respect for this investor who came to Guyana with the intention of building genuine and good-faith partnerships.
The address of the website of this story is: www.victiminvestorguyana.com
Viewers are encouraged to go to the website and subscribe their e-mails to receive updates of this saga, which he believes will help him to get justice and punish all criminals responsible for his losses.
Fighting against injustice:
Investors are the life blood of the economy of any country, and De Paula is an investor whom any country would like to have and the documentary shows evidences of his considerable contributions in Guyana. This exceptional businessman came committed to bring real value to the country but instead ended up having all his businesses and resources exploited by criminals, and, instead of the justice system working in his favor, it aided and abetted the perpetrators to continue their criminal acts.
De Paula has been fighting for justice for the past 2 years, and accessing him justice in every meaning of this word should be the country’s obligation at this stage. He hopes that his own experiences will catalyze changes in Guyana’s justice system that will ensure protection of honest investors and businessmen, as well as ordinary citizens from such unfortunate circumstances and experiences in the future.
There is no doubt about the relevance of this businessman to the entrepreneurial dynamics and the injustices he faced in Guyana. Definitively, no country can afford to lose genuine investors like De Paula, with capabilities, resources, knowledge and experiences to propel a country like Guyana toward a brighter future.
De Paula still believes that changes can occur, and he is prepared to do all in his power – to the length of his resources, to propel those changes. De Paula furthermore has in mind, short-term-easy-to-implement ideas to protect investors and relevant businessmen against corruption and other potential harm that are inhibiting them from venturing into business in this country.
The Brazilian Investor is convinced that drastic changes are needed urgently to maximize the potential of Guyana. He does not recommend anyone to venture in there, unless a number of effective decisions are taken in the shortest-term. Providing him with the justice that he seeks,compensating him for his losses, learn from his experiences, and use his support to re-structure the scenario, should be the immediate actions of any reasonable leader of a country like Guyana.