In an effort to understand the depth of the gold smuggling scheme allegedly led by the Mohameds family as well as the potential government officials involved, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and the head of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia have formally written to U.S. authorities requesting all the information they have.

During his weekly press conference today , Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo revealed that government has reached out to high-level officials in the United States to obtain detailed records and information regarding the alleged smuggling operations. This move is part of an ongoing investigation into a significant tax evasion scheme estimated at US$50 million, implicating one of Guyana’s wealthiest families, the Mohameds and Permanent Secretary, Mae Thomas.

The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in exposing the alleged scheme accused the Mohameds of bribing customs and government officials to ensure an undisrupted flow of their criminal operations.

To this end, Jagdeo disclosed that a comprehensive letter has been sent directly to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, requesting all available information on gold smuggling and any government officials involved in these illegal activities. The correspondence aims to gather data not only on smuggling activities but also on broader corruption practices linked to these individuals.

“So we want to know who the officials are, the government officials,” Jagdeo stated. “We have asked the U.S. government at the top level, the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America. We wrote directly to her asking for all of the information about these illegal transactions—the smuggling as well as the government, all the government officials involved in this regard.”

In addition to the request to the Treasury Department, the GRA has reached out to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. The GRA’s letter specifically requested information on illegal financial transactions and accounts related to the smuggling activities.

“The Guyana Revenue Authority has already submitted on that very day (Tuesday),” Jagdeo noted. “So this letter went off on Tuesday from the Minister of Finance to the Secretary of the Treasury of the U.S. and simultaneously, a letter went from GRA to the IRS—to the leadership of the IRS. It’s a multi-page letter outlining all of the information that we’d like to have on bank accounts, transactions, a whole range of issues, dating back not just to 2020 but all the way to 2015.”

The GRA’s Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia, who has been with the authority since 2015, signed the letter. The letter insists on a response before December 31st, 2023, to ensure that the necessary legal actions can be taken within the permissible time frame.

“We need this information before the 31st of December of this year because sometimes we know how long these agencies take to respond to requests from third countries,” Jagdeo explained. “Mr. Statia, who was at GRA throughout the 2015 to 2020 period, he was there and now he’s still there as head of GRA. We asked whether he had received from the U.S. government any specific information about gold smuggling and names of people involved. The answer was no.”

Moreover, Jagdeo highlighted the significant financial impact of the alleged smuggling operations, which have reportedly been ongoing since 2019. The Vice President also emphasized the need to recover the lost taxes, which are estimated to be around US$50 million, and to hold those involved accountable.

“We now have taken the step that we want to see the information about any government official who may be corrupt regardless of which agencies they’re in, and we would like to get the information about the gold,” Jagdeo stated. “Because if this gold has been entering since 2019, and declared here in the United States of America, and it’s about 11, about 10,000 kilograms, they said was seized, and if it was seized why were we not notified in the last five years when they were seizing this?”

Additionally, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Bank of Guyana have been tasked with preparing a comprehensive report on the implications of the U.S. sanctions for the country’s financial system. This report is expected to address potential risks and ensure that Guyana’s financial sector is safeguarded against similar threats in the future.

“We have also asked on Tuesday that the FIU and the Bank of Guyana to prepare a report on the implications of the sanction for our financial system,” Jagdeo explained. “So they will present a comprehensive report on the implications of the sanction for our financial system. We want to safeguard our financial system’” he added.

The Vice President reiterated the government’s commitment to transparency and the rule of law, affirming that the administration will take stringent actions against anyone found to be involved in illegal activities. The investigation and subsequent actions aim to restore the integrity of Guyana’s financial system and ensure strict adherence to legal standards.


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