Apr 28, 2016 News
An audit report into the operations of the state-owned Guyana Gold Board for the period 2012-2014, has found worrying problems at the Bartica office before it was ordered closed by the previous administration
two years ago.
It appears also that a dealer was running a racket, playing with prices and was in league with staffers at the Bartica office, located in Region Seven, up the Essequibo River.
As a result, Guyana lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
Former General Manager, Anantram Balram, resigned at the end of 2014, after being sent on leave.
The report, which was uploaded to the Ministry of Finance website yesterday, said that it found, based on documents, that on April 4, 2014, there was a report of impropriety in the purchase of gold at the Bartica branch.
Alarm bells were raised following the discovery of yellow-coated metal, among the gold purchased.
The auditors, Ram and McRae, were provided with copies of reports submitted to the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police on the alleged simple larceny committed at the Guyana Gold Board (Head Office and Bartica Branch) 40 into the discovery of 25 pieces of yellow coated metal or silver instead of gold.
The discovery was made on that April 2014 afternoon by the Assistant Head of Laboratory.
A file on the above mentioned report has been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice.
“Recommendations were made for further investigations to be conducted since there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone. Difficulties encountered during the investigation were noted to be the following: Investigators were unable to determine who switched the gold; Non existence of physical evidence to determine who committed the act; and Absence of useful footage from surveillance cameras (three of eleven cameras from Bartica were made available, while at head office eight of 11 were made available),” the audit report said.
The matter was reported to the Police and investigations were conducted both by the Gold Board and the Police.
The final report was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions who advised that while there was evidence of negligence, the evidence was not sufficient to charge anyone and that more investigations were required.
“No other reports were received detailing any further actions taken after the recommendations were made by the office of the DPP. The value of the loss was put at approximately $10M.”
The auditor said that it was during their work last year that rumours persisted that one dealer habitually sold his gold to the Gold Board’s operation at Bartica delivering his gold late in the afternoon.
“Responding to that rumour we tested several transactions by the dealer from the computer records maintained by the Gold Board. The records contain the name of the dealer, time and date, quantity, gross value and net amount of the transaction as well as the purity level of the gold sold,” the audit report said.
Tests showed that purchases were made around mid morning on each day around which time price declared by the Gold Board would change.
“What was interesting, however, is that the dealer invariably received the higher of the two prices for the day which raises the possibility that he had information from inside the Gold Board.
As a matter of fact, the dealer in 2012 and 2013 sold almost $42B in gold to the Bartica branch of the GGB. In 2014, the sale fell to $324M.
“It should be noted that sales by this individual to the Bartica office were the highest of the top sellers in both 2012 and 2013 with 82,459 ozs. and 58,511 ozs. respectively based on the list of top sellers.”
Significantly, the report pointed out, once the Bartica branch was closed following the incident in March 2014, the dealer ceased doing business with the Gold Board.
A new office was last December commissioned by GGB at Bartica.
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