Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 17:11 by GxMedia
A privately-owned executive jet service, whose Guyanese owner has been arrested in Puerto Rico allegedly with US$620,000 in his possession, has been used by Former President Bharrat Jagdeo and his successor, Donald Ramotar, according to well-placed sources.
The owner, Khamraj Lall, was arrested in Puerto Rico on November 22 after US$600,000 was sniffed out by dogs that were taken aboard the aircraft he was a passenger on his return to Guyana.
Caribbean News Desk was also reliably informed that the private hangar for Exec Jet Club can potentially come under less scrutiny by various layers of security personnel at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
According to knowledgeable sources, passengers could go to the hangar first with anything, place it aboard the aircraft and then return for cursory inspection before departing. On arrival, occupants can report for a cursory inspection before the plane is taken to the hangar where items could be offloaded.
Sources said that Ramotar and Jagdeo have used the executive jet service to fly to Puerto Rico and Brazil. In the case of a trip to Puerto Rico, both presidents had travelled together. Nothing illegal was ever found on those flights.
While concerns have been raised about the size and location of the “very private” hangar with a “private entrance,” another source was adamant that it is under construction and is not being used. The source said that Lall and his passengers are usually subjected to the same customs, immigration, police and Customs Anti Narcotics Unit scrutiny like all other private jets.
Another source acknowledged that construction work was ongoing but said the aircraft are usually parked inside the hangar that is large enough to hold a Boeing 737 and close its doors. The hangar is to be used for executive passengers and air-ambulance services.
Transport Minister, Robeson Benn told Caribbean News Desk that given the information that is in the public domain, authorities in Guyana would be seeking some answers. “Based on what is turning out there, we would see what relationship it has to do with anything at the hangar here or in Guyana… we’ll be asking some questions,” he said.
Reports from Puerto Rico say that Lall, who was traveling with his father and the pilot of the aircraft, initially reported only US$5,000 between him and his father, but in a second report said the two had US$12,000.
However, a team of federal agents found that indeed had more cash on the plane. US authorities require that sums are reported in cash over US$10,000.
On closer inspection of the plane, officers found US $150,000 first “wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket near an exit,” according to the statement of the federal agent. Lall said he did not remember having that amount and said they were from his business.
Subsequently, in a compartment near a motor, several black garbage bags with other US$470,000 were found. Lall said that all the money was his. He said his father and the pilot knew nothing about the high amount of cash carried in the aircraft.
Judge Marcos Lopez issued the arrest warrant Lall, as stated in the federal electronic file. Lall faces charges of falsely filling federal reports and smuggling more than US$600,000.
In 2007, he purchased a gas station now known as the Kaylee’ Service Station located at Coverden, East Bank Demerara as part of his investment plans in Guyana and later expanded his venture when he introduced Quin’s Special Events & Services compose of two limousines.