Extortion probe: Wanted bulletin issued for businessman Dorwain Bess
A wanted bulletin has been issued by Police for 45-year-old Dorwain Bess, for questioning in relation to the publication of defamatory information with intent to extort money.
According to the Guyana Police Force, Bess’s last known address is Lot 162 Rupa Place, Bel Air Park, Georgetown.
The businessman was implicated by Alex Wayne and Gary Eleazar, the two reporters who were arrested during a sting operation by Police as they allegedly attempted to extort $1 million from an auto dealer.
The article was published on the Facebook page of Guyana News Network (GNN), which purports to be a “news agency”, with an auto dealer’s photograph, alleging that he was involved in illegal activities – something which he said was untrue but caused him to be “embarrassed” and his “reputation was tarnished”. At that time, Police said the site was operated by an overseas-based political activist.
Police in a statement said that investigators conducted video and audio interviews with Marlon Gary Eleazar on Sunday. According to Police, during the interview Eleazar claimed that he was contacted by Dorwain Bess, who told him that a businessman was evading taxes on imported vehicles, and he subsequently wrote the article and sent same to Dorwain Bess.
“Eleazar said Bess sent the article to Rickford Burke where several paragraphs were added, and posted it on the Guyana News Network Facebook page and website. Notably, Eleazar also said that he had access to the GNN website for over a year, and was given the website’s password and username by Rickford Burke to manage the website, and he subsequently uploaded about five articles to the site,” the Police statement read.
Additionally, Police said that Eleazar claimed that he also sent other articles targeting other persons including Guyana Energy Agency to Dorwain Bess who sent them to Burke, who would then post the said articles to the GNN’s website and Facebook page.
“In particular, he said that Dorwain Bess told him that the article in question, was to threaten the businessman because of $100,000,000 that he had lost while they were in business,” Police said in the statement.
As the Police intensify its probe into attempts to extort a whopping $90 million from the local auto dealer, Eleazar and Wayne remain in custody.
On Sunday, a source close to the investigation told this publication that the Police obtained voice recordings of the political activist, who has ties to the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), and the overseas-based Guyanese businessman, both demanding $90 million from the local auto dealer in order to remove the article published about him.
In addition, the source also revealed to this publication that Eleazar, who has access to the social media page, along with Wayne approached the auto dealer separately and requested $10 million instead to remove the article from social media.
It was at this point that the auto dealer went to the Police on August 29 and filed a report about the extortion. This resulted in the Police setting up the sting operation to catch the two journalists, who are reportedly close associates of the overseas-based businessman.
The intelligence-led operation was conducted on the East Coast of Demerara on Friday, after both Wayne and Eleazar went to the businessman to extort cash. As a result, investigators then gave the businessman some money, along with certain instructions.
The two reporters were then seen arriving at the location and going to the businessman. The trio engaged in conversation during which Wayne and Eleazar demanded $1 million in order to remove the post from the GNN Facebook page.
In fact, Wayne took out his computer and handed same over to Eleazar, who went to the website and attempted to remove the post but then claimed that the password that he was in possession of, was not working at the time for some reason.
Last year, Bess was taken to court by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) for importing fuel without an import or importing wholesale licence – a breach of Regulation 4(2) (b) of the Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulations 2014.
According to the Guyana Police Force, if anyone has information about the whereabouts of the Bess, they can contact 225-6940, 225-8196, 226-7476, 225-2317, 227-1149 or the nearest Police station. (G12)