Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul and the family that was found at the 25 Sandy Babb Street Kitty address where a large quantity of ammunition was found remain of interest to the police as a major money laundering probe continues.
In custody with Rasul is Ricardo Fagundes, a former employee of Rasul, who is believed to have been at the Sandy Babb Street address at the time of Wednesday’s raid that was conducted by the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU) in conjunction with the Guyana Police Force.
Kaieteur News has learnt that Rasul has a security firm in Bartica and a number of gun licenses were issued to that firm. The police have since seized a quantity of weapons belonging to the firm and the gun licences are being revoked.
The police are also trying to locate a sport utility vehicle belonging to Rasul. It is believed that the vehicle might have left the country.
When contacted yesterday, head of SOCU Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James confirmed that ammunitions were indeed found at the Sandy Babb Street address and that aspect of the probe has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
James said the ammo find is now being investigated by the police. His unit continues to look at the money laundering aspect of the investigation with Rasul at the centre of those investigations.
The SOCU head also confirmed that another associate of Rasul, who this newspaper learnt is Wassim Kassim, is being interviewed by SOCU in connection with money laundering connected to the embattled gold dealer.
On Wednesday, the police in what appeared to be a well coordinated raid descended on a number of addresses, including one in Bartica where Kassim was found. He was arrested and brought to Georgetown for further interrogation.
James was asked if his unit is investigating whether there was collusion between Guyana Gold Board (GGB) officials and Rasul, and he said that SOCU is interviewing officials from that entity.
Rasul is still in police custody although he was arrested and placed on $3M bail for six counts of fraud for $956M that was transferred into his bank accounts at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) Bartica branch without the proper procedures being followed.
That was a police operation. This is an anti-money laundering probe.
In fact, the Citizen Bank cheques that were cashed at GBTI were not cleared with Citizen Bank before the cash was released which is a deviation from banking norms. Those cheques subsequently bounced.
On Wednesday as SOCU widened the money laundering probe into Rasul’s gold mining operations which include R. Mining Inc, a number of addresses were raided including 25 Sandy Babb Street Kitty where the unit seized three high value sports motorbikes, a Jet Ski, and also found a bag of ammunition. The entire family that was at the property at the time was arrested.
Rasul found himself in hot water after the banking fraud was unearthed. It is believed that declarations by R Mining Inc. owned by Rasul were deliberately structured so as to avoid the mandatory two percent tax that normal, small miners have to pay.
Mining companies are not obliged to pay the two percent upfront when they are declaring.
Kaieteur News has 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.
These visits by Rasul at GGB caused officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources to call in SOCU to investigate if there is collusion between employees of that entity and Rasul.
Questions are also being asked about the role of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) who should have been alerted to Rasul’s suspect operations. It raises questions if GGMC officials were delinquent in their responsibilities or if it was a case of ‘turning a blind eye to what went on’.
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