As the investigation into the alleged $956M bank fraud by Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul widens, the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) yesterday arrested the gold dealer after he turned himself into the unit yesterday.
There were also simultaneous raids conducted on properties belonging to Rasul and his associates. Around midday yesterday, SOCU swooped down on the Lot 25 Sandy Babb Street, Kitty, Georgetown home of Ricardo Fagundes, a close associate of the embattled gold dealer.
Tessa Fagundes, the sister of Ricardo Fagundes, told the media that SOCU presented a search warrant when they visited the address, and said that they were after computers, laptops and phones among other items.
The woman said that this was about the third visit that SOCU made to her brother’s address. She said that her brother no longer works with ‘Bobby’ and that the constant visits by SOCU have been frustrating.
During the raid, the units seized three high value sports motorbikes, a Jet Ski, and reportedly found a bag with ammunition. The entire family that was at the property at the time was arrested.
In what appeared to be a coordinated raid, the unit also descended on the residence of a business associate of Rasul in Bartica. The man was reportedly arrested and transferred to Georgetown for further questioning and a number of documents were seized from that property.
This newspaper has learnt that Rasul’s Gordon Street, Kitty business place was also subjected to a SOCU visit yesterday as well, and a sport utility vehicle was taken away. When contacted, a SOCU official confirmed that the unit is conducting a money laundering probe into the operations of Rasul. The official did confirm at the time that the gold dealer was in police custody.
Rasul appeared in court on April 3, last, and was placed on $3M bail after he was charged with six counts of fraud.
Rasul found himself in hot water after allegedly collecting $956M at the Bartica, Region Seven branch of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) based on a number of cheques he deposited; the cheques later bounced.
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, one bank official has since been sacked.
Kaieteur News learnt that Rasul visited the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) multiple times per day and those visits should have raised immediate suspicions because they indicated that R. Mining Inc. owned by Rasul was supposedly washing down at its mining operations several times a day.
However, the reality is much different, it is logistically impossible to produce that much gold from the operations of R Mining and have it brought before closing time to Bartica and to the Brickdam office of GGB, insiders say. Yet, R Mining managed to do this over a three-month period – September to November, 2016 without any attention raised.
It was these visits by Rasul at GGB that caused officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources to call in SOCU to investigate if there was collusion between employees of that entity and Rasul.
The Ministry also wants to know if this dealing by Rasul and the GGB was used as an avenue to launder large sums of cash.
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