Guyana widens net on gold exports, wants international agreements for sharing gold trade info

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 June 2024, 22:34 by Writer

In the wake of the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) sanctions on Nazar Mohamed and Azruddin Mohamed, President Irfaan Ali on Thursday announced that a committee has been established to explore ways of further tightening the already rigid gold export system and widening the net on gold export transactions by other dealers.

“I’ve asked the Guyana Revenue Authority to seek further information…at all export locations on gold exported by other gold dealers so we can have information to see whether it is matched with what is in other system,” he said.

He said the committee of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Guyana Revenue Authority, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Guyana Gold Board would consider how the paper trail could be extended to foreign countries where the gold is being exported.

Dr Ali said there might be need for a legal instrument between Guyana and destinations of gold exports to share information on the amount of the precious yellow metal being declared domestically and on arrival at foreign ports.

Another idea on the table, he said, was the introduction of an export quota system for gold traders, and technological tracking of the gold.

The committee has been also tasked with examining export regulations, harmonisation of tax policies, anti-money laundering, and increased enforcement through a specialised task force.

OFAC’s sanctions in effect have resulted in the freezing of the Mohameds’ assets, and the prohibition of U.S. interests from doing business with them and their companies. Locally, the Bank of Guyana has already revoked their foreign exchange dealer’s licence and, according to the President, the Mohameds are not allowed to do business with the Gold Board.

Guyana is awaiting records from the U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service about the Mohameds’ alleged evasion of US$50 million in taxes to Guyana on 10,000 kilogrammes of cocaine between 2019 and 2023.

The U.S. accused Ms Mae Thomas of, while being Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, using her position to offer benefits to Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin, among others, in exchange for cash payments and high-value gifts. “Thomas misused her position to influence the award of official contract bids and the approval processes for weapons permits and passports on behalf of Mohamed’s Enterprise,” the Treasury Department said. Ms Thomas has been sent on leave and she has resigned from the Central Committee of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP). President Ali on Thursday said Mr Nazar Mohamed has resigned as an elected representative of the PPP on the Eccles-Ramsburg Council.