The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Monday released a database containing
information on almost 320,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers scandal and the offshore leaks investigations.
“The data covers nearly 40 years – from 1977 through 2015 – and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.”
A quick search of the database using Guyana in the country category has so far produced three names: Edris K Dookie, Yucatan Coutinho Reis and Chetwynd RF Bowling.
Dookie, according to the database, is a shareholder in Oyster Oil and Gas Limited, an active company located in the British Virgin Islands that was incorporated in 2010. The database shows that his local address in Guyana is Lot A16-17 Shamrock Gardens, Ogle, East Coast Demerara. Located at this address is Mid Atlantic Oil & Gas Inc, a company of which Dookie is the co-founder.
Dookie is no stranger to Guyana since he is also the co-founder and President of ON Energy and Executive Vice President of CGX Resources Inc, a Canadian oil company that was granted three exploration licences by the Government of Guyana.
Dookie was allegedly unceremoniously booted by the Board of the company in light of the poor performance by CGX in 2013 in finding hydrocarbon deposits on the shores of Guyana. Several wells were drilled which came up empty, thus drying up the company’s cash flow and putting it in a desperate position of needing to raise additional funds to stay afloat. Under new management, however, and in partnership with ExxonMobil, CGX was able to acquire the funding necessary to continue and has since found significant hydrocarbon deposits off Guyana’s shores.
Yucatan Reis, another person named in the Panama Papers database who is linked to Guyana, is a Brazilian that is a beneficiary of Equatorial Project Management and Engineering Enterprises Ltd, according to the database. Further checks of the database showed that the company was incorporated in 2013 and became inactive in 2015, with it being labelled “Bad debt account”. The address of the company is in Switzerland with offshore connections in the British Virgin Islands. The database also shows that Reis has a local address – Lot 40 Bel Air, Georgetown, Guyana.
Reis is the co-owner of Muri Brazil Ventures Inc and also the owner of Excel Minerals, a gold mining/ money transfer/ financing company located at Sixth and Light Streets, Alberttown.
Muri Brazil Ventures Inc, in 2013, was granted by the then Government of Guyana a permit for mineral surveying in the “ecologically fragile” New River Triangle. A controversy had erupted over the granting of this permit, since it was unearthed that the then Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud, with the Permission for Geological and Geographical Survey (PGGS), granted the company the right to occupy 2.2 million acres of land to conduct geological and geophysical surveys for rare earth elements, bauxite, limestone, nephelene, syenite, gold, diamonds and granite stones in South East Berbice for a period of 36 months.
Further exacerbating the controversy was a clause of the PGGS which provided that anytime during the duration of the permission, Muri Brasil Ventures Inc shall have the right to apply to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) for, and shall be granted on a priority basis a maximum of 18 prospecting licences once it satisfies attendant requirements.
After the heavy media backlash over the issue that put Persaud in the hot seat for allegedly lying to the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament over the conditionalities of the permit given to Muri, the company pulled out and scraped its local investment venture, citing that even though the process was legal and transparent, “misinformation, prejudice and hostility” towards the company were the impetus for backing out.
The third person named in the database, Chetwynd RF Bowling’s local address is Lot 20 Main and St John Street, New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana. The database shows that Bowling is a shareholder and Director of Alinga Consulting Group LTD, an active company that was incorporated in 2008. It is located in New York and has possible offshore ties with the British Virgin Islands.
Two companies were also listed in the database: the Guyana Trading Company Limited and the Guyana Company Limited respectively.
According to the ICIJ, it is publishing the information in the interest of the public. The ICIJ on its website highlighted that “while many of the activities carried out through offshore entities are perfectly legal, extensive reporting by ICIJ and its media partners for more than four years has shown that the anonymity granted by the offshore economy facilitates money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and other crimes. Even when it’s legal, transparency advocates argue that the use of an alternative, parallel economy undermines democracy because it benefits a few at the expense of the majority.”
ICIJ obtained the data through two massive leaks. “The majority of the names in this database come from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose inner workings were exposed in the Panama Papers investigation published in April 2016 in conjunction with Süddetsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners…The real value of the database is that it strips away the secrecy that cloaks companies and trusts incorporated in tax havens and exposes the people behind them,” said the ICIJ.