Last Updated on Monday, 7 August 2023, 16:17 by Denis Chabrol
President Irfaan Ali on Monday indicated that city businessman, Nazar “Shell” Mohamed, would not be removed as a governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) local government councillor because he has been implicated in a series of transnational crimes.
“The people elected Mr Mohamed on a slate that he was on so you have to respect the will of the people,” Dr Ali told reporters.
Mr Mohamed was elected to the Eccles-Ramsburg Neighbourhood Council in the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections.
The President admitted to knowing the Mohameds for a very long time but dismissed suggestions that they had provided assistance to his administration or had received preferential treatment. “I know the Mohameds. I know the Mohameds from growing up,” he said, adding “there is nothing special or differential” compared to other Guyanese.
Mr Mohamed and his son, Azruddin, had denied allegations of gold smuggling, drug trafficking and money laundering in a Reuters news agency report that relied on United States intelligence agency reports and unnamed confidential sources.
The President shrugged off questions that in hindsight the senior Mohamed’s candidacy should not have been accepted in light of those allegations. He echoed Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s position that the Guyana government has not been informed by the United States that the Mohameds were involved in illegal activities. “There are many allegations. I have never received officially, in writing or verbally, any request from anyone or any suggestion from anyone,” he said.
Dr Ali recalled Reuters news agency asking whether the US State Department ever requested anything about Mr Mohamed or whether he had been ever informed of anything illegal. “Neither of the two has occurred. It was never raised with me so I cannot comment on something that was never raised with me; I cannot comment on something that was never brought to my attention. That is the truth and that is the reality,” he said.
The Reuters report states that if the US government imposes sanctions on the Mohameds, this will effectively block the US supermajor, ExxonMobil, from going ahead with a US$300 million shorebase at Vreed-en-Hoop.