-possible collusion with Gold Board officials
Government has engaged the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the police, to
investigate alleged money laundering dealings of embattled gold dealer, Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul.
Officials confirmed over the weekend that SOCU, which has been involved in a number of high-profiled investigations, will be looking into transactions of Rasul’s companies with the Guyana Gold Board (GGB).
Among other things, SOCU will also be investigating if any staffers of GGB facilitated and benefitted from the transactions which reportedly amounted to billions of dollars within the last year alone.
SOCU’s involvement will complement that of the Board of Directors for GGB which was tasked Tuesday to look into the allegations.
A statement from the Natural Resources Ministry on Tuesday disclosed that the new directors, headed by Chairman, Gabriel Lall, will have to determine whether anyone from the agency acted improperly or outside of their mandate in conducting business with Rasul.
The gold dealer suddenly became a major force on the trading scene around mid last year.
He reportedly owns or has linkages to three companies – SSS Mineral Trading Enterprises, Hard Rock Mining and R Mining. The first is licensed to deal in gold while the latter is supposed to conduct mining operations.
Under arrangements, mining companies are not required to pay the two percent tax. Rather, they only pay five percent royalties to the GGB.
On the other hand, the licensed gold dealing companies have to pay five percent royalty and two percent taxes (seven percent in all) – the last goes to the Guyana Revenue Authority.
Investigators will be looking to find out how Rasul sold GGB billions of dollars in gold within the last nine months through the mining companies without any suspicions being raised, especially at the level of GGB and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.
Suspicions should have been raised as medium and small scale miners do not normally wash down daily and in any case very few would have been able produce at the frequency and amounts that Rasul, and the companies he is related to, did.
On some days, R. Mining reportedly sold hundreds of ounces of gold, sometimes collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds.
The two percent taxes lost on some days amounted to millions – on one occasion it was around $4M.
Investigators were reportedly also handed a significant number of documents by a whistleblower to back up the complaint of alleged wrongdoing involving GGB staffers and Rasul.
In one correspondence to the police seen by Kaieteur News, the whistleblower alleged that a senior GGB official at the Bartica branch reportedly received calls from a senior official from GGB’s Brickdam head office, instructing him to pay the highest of rates of the daily fixings.
It was made clear that persons within the industry knew of the alleged collusion but kept quiet as the name of a high-ranking government official was used as protection.
Staffers of GGB were threatened with sacking if they talked.
Rasul is in deep trouble with his businesses. Not only have his accounts at Citizens Bank and GBTI been closed, but Republic Bank has this past week reportedly frozen almost $40M that he has there, on the instructions of investigators.
Without any bank accounts, gold dealing is virtually impossible, especially with tough anti-money laundering laws in place.
His alleged scheme fell apart more than a week ago after a number of cheques, to the tune of over $950M, bounced after they were deposited to his Bartica, GBTI account.
By then the bank, against internal procedures, had paid out against the uncleared cheques which were drawn on Rasul’s Citizens Bank account.
Investigators have recovered very little of the monies or gold.
The Bartica-based businessman was last week slapped with several fraud charges. He was placed on $3M bail after being held for a number of days.
A number of his staffers have been questioned and cash seized from his Charity, Essequibo office.
His homes in Prashad Nagar and Bartica and office in Kitty were raided by investigators.
The female manager of the Bartica branch of GBTI was sent home and Rasul was arrested two Fridays ago after GBTI filed a police complaint.
The bank manager was arrested last week after she turned herself into the police headquarters at Eve Leary, Georgetown. She was placed on bail Friday as investigators continue to gather evidence.
It is alleged that the female bank manager facilitated the transactions.
It was also alleged, that the gold dealer had no credit facilities at any bank, but began purchasing gold, purportedly from miners, in large quantities in 2014, sometimes even paying more than $10,000 above other dealers for one ounce of the precious material. This raised eyebrows by others in the trade.
Brazilian miners were apparently targeted for the gold.
It was alleged that in two months alone, Rasul’s companies deposited and withdrew several billions of dollars. Sometimes there were as many as seven withdrawals in one day, the bulk of the gold being sold through R. Mining.
It was also alleged that Gold Board would somehow collude with Rasul and granted him beneficial trading prices, based on the daily fixing.
It was also reported that Rasul has fallen under the radar of US authorities, like Homeland Security and the FBI, for his alleged money laundering activities.
Apr 08, 2020On Monday evening last, the Ministry of Public Health (MoH) confirmed the passing of Deryck ‘Mad Dog’ Jaisingh as the latest fatality of the Covid-19 disease. Jaisingh was very well known...
Apr 08, 2020
Apr 07, 2020
Apr 07, 2020
Apr 07, 2020
Apr 06, 2020
One of the deep mysteries that the 2020 election result has given rise to is a gargantuan contradiction between the words... more
The statement below appeared on a Facebook page. The page is purported to be connected to either the APNU+AFC or its supporters. The... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]