Guyanese and United States (US) authorities have uncovered a money laundering and gold smuggling racket that has so far fleeced the country of more than US$200 million (GUY$42 billion) worth of the precious metal over a four-month period.
Top officials of the Guyana government said a number of Guyanese gold exporters have been smuggling out huge quantities of gold from Guyana and on arriving in the US have been declaring them as “scrap gold” which do not attract duties in that country.
The failure to declare gold exports at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport also means that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has not been unable to tax the exports here.
The calculation of US$200 million was made for gold arrivals from Guyana over the period November, 2014 to March, 2015.
The officials have confirmed that the smuggling and sale of “scrap gold” in the US is part of a massive money laundering operation.
The American visas of several gold miners and traders have since been revoked, even as several more are the subject of an intensive investigation.
While some of the gold is being funneled through the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, authorities say other quantities are being placed on Suriname-bound planes at the Ogle International Airport. Apart from attracting lower taxes in Suriname, the yellow metal is sold to the Middle East.
The sources said security is relaxed to allow the smugglers to pass through both airports without checks and declarations.