Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has called on senior officials of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) to conduct better surveillance of the gold sector.
While welcoming the re-appointment of the GGB board on Friday, Trotman underscored the importance for staff to remain vigilant.
“I am imploring the board to conduct better surveillance both within the board and outside to ensure that its system remains current, remains modern, remains secure and that includes from your personnel to your computer systems because these will be under tests and there will be attempts to compromise them on a daily basis so I ask you to pay keen attention to that,” Trotman stated.
The board members will serve for one year from March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019.
The returning Chairman is Gabriel ‘GHK’ Lall with the Vice Chair being Dela Britton. The other members are John Yates; the General Manager of the GGB, Eondrene Thompson; Legal Officer of the GGB, Stacey Weever; a representative of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), Andron Alphonso, and a representative of the Bank of Guyana.
According to Trotman, the re-appointment of the members who served last year is a sign that the Government is comfortable and confident in their work.
“I ask that you continue to do your work as is expected according to law and understand that gold continues to be the main pillar until the arrival of oil, upon which this economy rests and so to whom much is given much is expected,” Trotman stated.
The role of the board members over the next year will be crucial as the industry moves to enforce stricter rules in order to remain complaint under international anti-money laundering laws. Failure to comply could result in the industry being blacklisted as was the case when the United States decided to ban the import of catfish from Guyana.
“If we don’t play along, in the language that all Guyanese can understand, gold is not Catfish. Gold does not have the wriggle room. We do not have that luxury to afford sanction of a ban on our shipments of gold, on our exports. We cannot afford it, the country cannot afford it. Our dealers cannot afford it…our country cannot afford it,” Lall has explained.
The introduction of the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT) regime, has been meeting some resistance.
According to Lall, there is no “wriggle room” if Guyana intends to continue trading in gold.
“A CFATF fourth round of oversight team is due here later this year. Guyana must demonstrate a high standard of compliance and effectiveness in the measures employed to address AML and CFT issues and activities. This is where the proof is in the pudding, and the Gold Board has to deliver, in view of its significant presence in the national economy, and gold’s historical contributions as a money laundering instrument,” Lall explained.
Some operators in the local industry have already started to complain about the tightening up of standards, but Lall explained that the reality is that the Gold Board does not have the luxury to push back.
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