Local officials clueless about last departure date of hijacked vessel
Local authorities are yet to determine when was the last time the gold-laden vessel, Summer Bliss, which was attacked and robbed in Curacao last year, left any Guyanese Port. At least this is according to Director of the Maritime Administration Department, Claudette Rogers, yesterday, when she responded to questions about the vessel.
On November 30, last year, armed men attired as police officers boarded vessel and reportedly carted off gold bars valued at several millions from the Guyana-registered boat shortly after the vessel docked at the port in Willemstad, Curacao, an Antillean island located off Venezuela.
Initial reports suggested that the boat left from Suriname, where they said that a large amount of the stolen booty originated. Two officials from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission travelled to Curacao to determine whether the precious metal came from Guyana.
Speaking to the ownership of the vessel yesterday, Rogers confirmed that the vessel is registered to one Deo Shivpaul. The local address on the registration was reportedly given as Canal Number Two Polder, but checks by local officials found that the location is an empty lot.
However the Director related that the vessel was previously owned by another individual whose name she could not provide yesterday. She did disclose though that before being renamed ‘Summer Bliss’ the vessel had carried the name ‘Shiva’.
According to her the police are still conducting investigations into the matter even as she disclosed that MARAD has already made all of the necessary information available to the investigating authority.
She added that it is a mandatory requirement that every vessel that leaves any Port report to the local lighthouse. However she intimated that “from all indications we do not have anything here from the lighthouse when this vessel would have last departed from Port Georgetown. We are not sure whether it even departed from Port Georgetown or from any other port,” Rogers added yesterday.
Development in the recent high-profile heist has since seen authorities in Curacao and the United States tracing some of the stolen gold bars to at least seven suspects including prominent jeweller, Giovani Regales.
Reports are that some 56 of the stolen gold bars were seized in Curacao. And Curacao’s police in a statement said that of the seven persons arrested, one of them is from Bonaire, another Dutch Antillean island; three from Venezuela and the remainder from Curacao. The arrests were conducted at several locations in Curacao.
One of the suspects was since released while the others are still being interrogated. During the investigation, the police said that they confiscated articles that are “very important for the case”.
It is believed that at least two of the gold bars were found at the arrested jeweller’s business place.
Curacao police said that in the preliminary part of the investigations, the Customs also participated actively. “Furthermore because this investigation has some international aspect to it, the Police Corps had communication with the authorities from these countries” even as the investigation in the case continues.