Dec 03, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – If an ordinary man attempts to deposit a large sum of cash into a local bank account, he would have to endure stringent procedures with an austere line of questioning due to Guyana’s strict anti-money laundering legislation.
However, when People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) member, James Bond, deposited US$1 million into an account at a commercial bank in the city, the transaction, it would seem, triggered no red flags. This has caused questions to be raised as to how many more large transactions like this have passed under the radar.
In fact, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was not even notified of the transaction, Kaieteur News was told.
This paper had reported that Bond pocketed the hefty sum for the sale of prime state lands leased by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to ARKEN Group Inc., a company in which Bond appears to be a principal.
Those very lands in question are a small part of ongoing investigations being undertaken by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) into the large-scale giveaway of state lands at Peter’s Hall and on the East Coast of Demerara during the APNU+AFC tenure.
As the investigations progressed, Kaieteur News received copies of the bank statement detailing Bond’s bank transaction.
Back in 2019, on October 15, Bond received US$195,000 from Trinidad-based Lennox Petroleum Inc. on behalf of GLASS Holdings Inc., the local oil and gas Logistics Company the lands were sold to.
Lennox Petroleum deposited the funds into a local bank account with Bond listed as the beneficiary. Then again, on November 21, the last tranche of funds for the sale were released; a whopping US$757,800 right into Bond’s account.
Such a large transaction should have immediately triggered red-flags as per the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act 2009, the city bank, deemed the “reporting entity” is required to pay special attention to “all complex, unusually large business transactions, unusual patterns of transactions, whether completed or not, that have no apparent economic or lawful purpose and inconsistent with the profiles of the persons carrying out such transactions.”
That reporting entity would also have to “verify the background and purpose of the transactions or business relations and record its findings in writing.” Then, that information would be transmitted to the Financial Intelligence Unit.
The FIU was established and operates within the ambit of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFTA) 2009 and its Regulations.
The Unit, which has responsibility for requesting, receiving, analyzing and dissemination of suspicious transaction reports and other information relating to money laundering, terrorist financing or the proceeds of crime, should have been notified about Bond’s bank transaction, but was not.
In addition to this, a source from the Bank of Guyana (BoG) explained to Kaieteur News that Bond’s transaction should have raised concerns because of the mere fact that he is in the political lime light.
“If you are a politically exposed person, a PEP, one is supposed to examine it a number of times. It does not just go away like that, go unchecked like that. PEPs are looked at differently, so any transaction should have raised eyebrows,” the source explained.
Bond is currently out on bail after being arrested as the probe into the lands giveaway progress. However, the US$1 million deal is not the only one Bond allegedly benefitted from.
Two businessmen embroiled in the scandal – Life 1 Pharms Inc. Director, Avalon Jagnandan, and Director of A-Z Pharmaceuticals Medical Supplies and Equipment Inc., Eddie Doolal, fingered Bond as being the mastermind behind land deals, which saw 30 acres of state lands being transferred to Chinese national, Jianfen Yu. Not only that, Bond was said to have also pocketed more than $120 million from both deals.
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