Apr 03, 2017 News
Police yesterday took into custody a senior employee of detained Bartica gold dealer Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul, who allegedly collected over $900M at the Bartica branch of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry, after depositing cheques that later bounced.
According to reports reaching Kaieteur News, the employee was picked up from his Richmond home on the Essequibo Coast. He was then taken to the office of Rasul located in Charity where the police reportedly seized some items. Deonarine apparently manages the Charity office where he purchases gold, and transacts other business for Rasul.
The employee is expected to be brought to Georgetown to be questioned by investigators. Police are reportedly trying to ascertain whether the employee received a portion of the $900M by cashing cheques on behalf of his employer.
In the meantime, Rasul is expected to appear in court today. On Friday last, investigators took Rasul into custody after GBTI had filed a complaint with investigators of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of Eve Leary. They have also questioned a gold dealer who is a close associate of Rasul.
This was confirmed by Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum. He declined to give details, saying that the matter was a sensitive one and is still under investigation. However, well-placed sources had informed this publication that police raided the businessman’s Gordon Street, Kitty business place as well as his Prashad Nagar and Bartica homes.
Rasul had been one of the major gold buyers for a number of dealers before he would have branched off on his own. Regarding the accusations being made against him, officials disclosed on Thursday last that the issue was highlighted over a week ago.
At the GBTI’s Bartica branch, cheques drawn on Citizens Bank and totalling over $900M were deposited to Rasul’s accounts. It is protocol that banks would normally hold other banks’ cheques until they are cleared, before making payments against them. However, it appears as though this procedure was flouted by GBTI officials.
More than $900M was paid out and the Citizens Bank cheques subsequently bounced. A GBTI senior official has since been sent home. She was said to be involved in authorising the payments. Further, Citizens Bank reportedly closed Rasul’s accounts a week ago after noticing a number of suspicious transactions. GBTI followed suit and did the same last week.
Under recently enacted anti-money laundering laws, banks and other financial institutions are mandated to monitor accounts of customers for suspicious transactions. Large deposits, rapid withdrawals and significant cash amounts could all be factors involved in generating what is known as suspicious transaction reports (STR).
It appeared that Citizens Bank concluded that the transactions to Rasul’s accounts were highly questionable and this spurred the decision to close the accounts.
According to sources, over a week ago, between March 21 and 22, Rasul deposited several cheques drawn on his accounts at Citizens Bank to his account at GBTI.
Officials of GBTI have declined to comment on the issue. Rasul is the owner of R Mining and SSS Minerals. Officials have said that at least one other businessman has signalled intentions to file a police complaint against Rasul for allegedly issuing him with bounced cheques.
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