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Guyana links surface in Panama Papers

An oil industry executive and a mineral mapper are two persons linked to Guyana who are named in the Panama Papers that has triggered global interest in tax havens, but one of those identified said Monday that nothing is wrong with registering companies offshore.

Dr. Edris Dookie, formerly of CGX Energy and more recently Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas, is listed as a shareholder in Oyster Oil and Gas Limited. That company was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on September 8, 2010. Its address is given as St George’s Place; St Peter Port; Guernsey; GY1 2BH; previously Fiman House; La Hougue du Valle; Valee; Guernsey; GY3 5TE.

The other person is Yucatan Coutinho Reis who was a director of Muri Brasil Ventures Inc, a company that was at one time identified by the then People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration to conduct in mineral surveying and possible prospecting in the New River Triangle for for rare earth elements, bauxite, limestone, nephelene, syenite, gold, diamonds and granite stones.

In the case of the Panama Papers, it states that Reis is a beneficiary of Equatorial Project Management and Engineering Enterprises Ltd. That company was incorporated in The British Virgin Islands on January 18, 2013 and its status is that of a “bad debt account.” The company’s address is Calle Oeste 12 Esq. De Puente Nuevo A Quebrada ED1F64 1 Apt. 11. Urb. Parroquia San Juan, Caracas Distrito, Capital Venezuela.

Contacted by telephone and e-mail, Dookie said he was not worried about perceptions of taking advantage of offshore tax havens, saying that all his taxes as a United States citizen are  filed there and are up to date. He explained that many small and big oil and other companies are registered offshore to take advantage of the various currencies used.

He confirmed that he is a small shareholder in the Canadian-traded Oyster Oil and Gas, but that he has paid little attention to the company’s performance. “I am just a little, small shareholder in that company…That company has no investments in Guyana, their investments are in Africa,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. He added that he has not earned anything from that company.  “As a matter of fact, I never got a cent. I don’t even know if the shares are traded or not,” he said.

He said he has never had any dealings with the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca from where the biggest leak ever in confidential data has occurred, causing world leaders and other prominent persons to explain their fortunes. Told that concerns would be raised about whether he was stashing his wealth overseas to avoid taxation, he demurred. “Well, I don’t know. Let them go after billionaires. They got a lot of billionaires and multimillionaires they got to deal with,” he said.

Dookie explained that offshore jurisdictions are often used by oil companies. He recalled that CGX Energy was set up in The Bahamas in the mid-1990s. He said one of the big business advantages is to attract investors worldwide rather than restrict them only to Canada, for example.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reports that there are links to 12 current or former heads of state and government in the data, including dictators accused of looting their own countries.

More than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians are also implicated. The files also reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.

The leak has also revealed that more than 500 banks, including their subsidiaries and branches, registered nearly 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca. Lenders have denied allegations that they are helping clients to avoid tax by using complicated offshore arrangements.