Apr 25, 2017 News
Opposition leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, has said that ‘the chips should be allowed to fall where they
may’ as the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) probes suspected collusion between high ranking officials at the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) and the embattled gold dealer, Saddiqi ‘Bobby’ Rasul.
Last Thursday, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, sent home GGB General Manager Lisaveta Ramotar, the daughter of former President Donald Ramotar; Deputy General Manager Andrea Seelochan; and the Legal officer, Suzanne Bullen.
According to the letters sent to the three most senior officials at that entity, the police have requested that the officials be sent on administrative leave to facilitate an investigation.
Jagdeo said if there is a major problem with gold smuggling the police should investigate it thoroughly, and that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is not against professional investigations.
The opposition leader said that if it were found that persons have broken the law at that entity, they should face the consequences arising from their actions.
Jagdeo said that the investigations cannot be one of convenience. He contends that there are connections to Ministers in the affair. He said that the investigation should not sterilize the ministerial connections in the conduct of these investigations.
When the former president was asked who were the Ministers he did not say and challenge the
media to do investigative reporting. Jagdeo said that he suspects that the technical staffs are now left to ‘face the music’ something that he contends is the new way of addressing issues of this nature by the Granger-led administration.
In a Declaration of Compliance, Legal Officer of GGB, Suzanne Bullen, said that she assisted in the formation of one of Rasul’s companies. She even used the GGB Upper Brickdam address.
The documents said: “I, Suzanne Bullen, of Lot 68 Upper Brickdam, Georgetown, Demerara, being duly sworn, make oath and say as follows: That I am the Attorney-at-Law engaged in the formation of SSS Minerals Trading Enterprise Inc., and I hereby state that all the requirements of the Companies Act, No. 29 of 1991, in respect of the matters precedent to the registration of the said company, and incidental thereto, have been complied with.”
Bullen’s role would raise serious conflict of interest questions as she is also the Compliance Officer of the state-owned GGB.
Additionally, according to data between September to November last year, Rasul conducted over $7.6B in transactions with GGB, selling both at the Bartica branch and at the Upper Brickdam office.
What should have raised staffers’ suspicions was the fact that Rasul allegedly used a company he owned – R. Mining – to conduct the majority of his business with GGB.
There was a reason for this. Under regulations, mining companies are not required to pay the two percent tax. They are, however, mandated to pay the five percent tax.
In essence, Rasul is alleged to have bought gold through his gold dealing company, SSS Minerals, later passing it through R. Mining to the GGB.
Between September and November, the state reportedly lost an estimated $100M in taxes, because of what the gold dealer allegedly did. Those alleged transactions are said to be money laundering.
Rasul’s activities have drawn the attention of not only SOCU but also the Guyana Revenue Authority.
In recent weeks, a Lexus SUV and Toyota pickup, both bullet-proofed, were seized.
Investigators have also raided the Bartica and city operations of Rasul as well as the premises of his business associates.
Police have also seized several guns and a significant quantity of documents.
Rasul has also been charged with a $956M fraud at the Bartica branch of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry. He has been placed on $3M bail.
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
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