Guyana cracking down on gold smuggling

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 June 2024, 22:12 by Writer

Guyana has begun cracking down on the smuggling of gold out of the South American nation, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo told a news conference just days after three persons were arrested allegedly attempting to smuggle 240 ounces of the silver-plated metal to the United States.

I just want to forewarn those who have been engaged in this practice that we know who you are, or at least some of the key players and the law enforcement agencies of the government are coming after you,” he said.

Referring to the Guyana customs’ alleged seizure of the $560,000 worth of gold on Tuesday from the trio, including two American citizens, shortly before they were due to depart for New York, Mr Jagdeo said authorities “knew that they were coating the gold with silver and taking it out of the country.”

“What you saw at the airport was just a tiny manifestation of it,” he said. He warned gold smugglers to desist from that practice because “the full force of the law” would be taken against them, and there was a likelihood that the laws could be amended to provide for tougher penalties.

Several years ago, a regional airline pilot was caught smuggling gold out of Guyana. In 2012, 70 gold bars worth US$11.5 million were stolen from a Guyanese fishing boat, Summer Bliss, in Curacao.

Official declaration to the state-owned gold regulator, Guyana Gold Board, during 2023 totaled 432,113.2 ounces. There is no official estimate of how much gold is being smuggled out of Guyana annually.

Referring to a slump in gold declarations, Mr Jagdeo said government was “very concerned” about people refusing to sell gold to the gold board to evade taxes. He also said government was aware that buyers were paying higher than market prices to “externalise” their wealth from ill-gotten proceeds.