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Gold Board General Manager denies any wrongdoing

Guyana Gold Board General Manager on-leave, Lisaveta Ramotar on Wednesday denied being involved in alleged money laundering or other offences, as police continued to probe alleges links with fraud accused gold dealer, Saddiqi Rasul.

“I wish to assert strongly that I am absolutely innocent of any wrong doings. I have discharged my  duties at the Guyana Gold Board professionally and based on the important metric of declaration it was under my tenure that the Cooperative Republic of Guyana obtained its highest ever  declaration to date,” Ramotar said in a statement issued voluntarily to the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

Ramotar further rejected insinuations in sections of the media that she might have played a role in incorporating Rasul’s company.  In the incorporation records, Guyana Gold Board Compliance Officer, Attorney-at-Law Ms Bullen is recorded as having incorporated the company.

“I wish to strongly deny that I ever gave instructions to Ms. Bullen to incorporate Mr. Rasul’s company. In fact, the first time I learnt of her incorporating the company is on April 20, 2017, when she indicated that she should resign her position at the Guyana Gold Board because she incorporated the company,” said Ramotar in her statement that was delivered to SOCU in the presence of her lawyer, Anil Nandlall.

Dealing with the issue of multiple visits to the Guyana Gold Board, Ramotar said all employees of the Guyana Gold Board have been trained in Anti money laundering compliance and as late as the latter half of 2016 they were trained in identifying  suspicious activities.

The General Manager said the Compliance Officer never submitted to her any suspucious reports.

Front line employees are the ones interacting with customers and hence are best placed to indicate if an activity is suspicious. In the training staff members  were told to report suspicious activities to the Compliance Officer. Yet, the Compliance  Officer never indicated that she received such reports from staff,” Ramotar said

Ramotar, her Deputy Andrea Seelochan and Bullen were sent on leave pending the completion of a police probe into alleged money laundering.

Specifically dealing with Rasul’s gold sales to the Gold Board, the General Manager said threshold reports are sent monthly to the Financial Intelligence Unit and all of Mr. Rasul’s companies’ transactions are on those reports.

On the claim that Rasul sold gold several times per day using his mining company indicating a wash down several times per day, she said the Guyana Gold Board is required to buy all gold presented to the  organisation. “The Guyana Gold Board’s mandate is not to verify production. The organisation does not verify production. The current process at the Guyana Gold Board is  such that those in possession of gold can either have a production sheet which would be a sheet out of the production books issued by GGMC or they may be given a permission slip, which is issued by the Guyana Gold Board.

The Finance Department of the Guyana Gold Board collects both production sheets and permission slips when the department makes payments to those selling gold. The production sheets and permission slips are uplifted  daily by the GGMC, the body that regulates mining in Guyana,” she added.

Addressinf the issue that Rasul’s company did not pay the 2 percent tax, Ramotar said under a regulation which she has seen, mining companies are not required to pay
the 2 percent withholding tax. The Finance Department of the Guyana Gold Board is  directly responsible for making payments to miners and hence has to get proof that in fact the seller of gold is a mining company. “To this end, the Finance Department of the Guyana
Gold Board must collect documents to support the non payment of the withholding tax.”

With regards to issuing instructions to the Bartica Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, she said one of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the organisation indicates that the time at which a client enters the client accommodation room determines the fix at  which the client would be paid.

Ramotar recalled that sometime in October 2016, Mr. Rasul called to say that
the employee selling gold on behalf of his company was at the Bartica Branch prior to the changing of the fix, yet the employee received the second fix.

“I called the Bartica Manager to inform him about the SOP and at that point he indicated to me that what transpired with Mr. Rasul’s employee is not exactly as had been reported to me.”

She further recalled that he stated that one of Mr. Rasul’s employee entered the Bartica office prior to the changing of the fix to sell gold on  behalf of Mr. Rasul.

Ramotar added that the employee stated that he had more gold in his vehicle and was going to step out of the office to uplift it.

Further, the Guyana Gold Board General said subsequently, another of Mr. Rasul’s employee ntered the Branch with another set of gold selling on behalf of Mr. Rasul’s company.

The second person, according to the Branch Manager entered after the changing of the fix and  hence received the second fix. When Mr. Rasul was informed of the sequence of events he continued to hold that his employee was there before the fix changed. I indicated to him that I would review the cameras and in the mean time the second transaction was paid at the second fix.”

She said since there was a dispute I asked that the video recording of the event be brought to  Georgetown for viewing. “It was viewed and it was determined that indeed what the Bartica Manager stated transpired, occurred, and hence the decision to pay the second fix was upheld.”