Latest update May 27th, 2023 12:27 AM
Apr 13, 2017 News
The troubles of Bartica gold dealer, Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul yesterday continued with enforcement officials of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) seizing a high-end Toyota Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) from his city home.
According to officials, the dark-colored, heavily tinted Toyota Hilux was picked up from Rasul’s Prashad Nagar residence shortly after 13:00hrs.
The 2013 vehicle is believed to have been imported from Brazil earlier this year but it was never declared to Customs. There was no evidence that taxes or duties were paid.
Affixed to it were plates bearing the numbers PKK1996. The vehicle does not appear in GRA’s records.
The PKK series is one issued about a decade ago. It would have been impossible for a 2013 vehicle to be registered with a PKK number.
Enforcement officials were seen at Rasul’s residence before leaving with the vehicle to the GRA headquarters on Camp Street. The vehicle was one used by Rasul’s in his gold dealing operations.
Rasul is under fire from several Government agencies for his gold dealing activities.
In a meteoric rise over six months, he became one of the leading gold dealers for the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) last year.
His activities came crashing down, spectacularly, about two weeks ago after the Bartica branch of the Guyana Bank For Trade and Industry (GBTI) discovered that cheques totalling over $950M that were deposited to his account had bounced. However, by then, he had collected that amount using a number of his employees who presented several cheques.
It is believed that a bank official did not follow internal procedures to ensure that Rasul’s accounts at Citizens Bank had the necessary funds before the payments were authorized.
Rasul was arrested and later slapped with several fraud charges before he appeared in court and was placed on $3M bail.
The female bank manager who was sent home was also arrested and is said to be cooperating with police investigators who are trying to determine whether she was complicit in Rasul dealings.
Yesterday, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum disclosed that the bank manager is cooperating with police.
He also disclosed that former Chief Justice (ag), Ian Chang, who retired earlier this year, will take over the prosecution of the fraud cases against Rasul from the police.
This was after he applied for a fiat (permission or order) from the Director of Public Prosecutions to conduct the prosecution.
Rasul is also under investigations by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the police, for alleged money laundering activities.
It is believed that Rasul allegedly used his companies- SSS Minerals Trading Enterprises, which is licensed to deal gold, and R Mining Inc. to evade paying a two percent tax.
Under regulations, mining companies are only obligated to pay a five percent royalty. They don’t have to pay the two-percent taxes for GRA upfront.
Based on GGB records, between September and November 2016, Rasul allegedly passed off over $4.7B worth in gold that he said was mined.
However, insiders say that the amounts were too large and could not be mined gold. Rather, it is believed that the gold was what was purchased from miners and then passed through R. Mining to GGB to make it appear as mined gold.
Why that did not raise any red flags from GGB and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission is what SOCU will be trying to find out.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has also announced that it has mandated the new Board of Directors of GGB to examine whether there was any collusion.
Police have raided the business and homes of Rasul in the city, Bartica in Region Seven and Charity, Essequibo Coast.
However, they recovered only little cash. The bulk of the $850M withdrawn from GBTI is still missing.
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