…says principal previously convicted of money laundering
The Guiana Holding Incorporated, trading as Superbet, recently complained that it is not being granted its renewal of licences owing to victimisation on the part of the Guyana Gaming Authority. The Gaming Authority, however, on Wednesday denied stymieing the investor.
In response to Superbet’s General Manager Shrikant Kisoensingh’s statements, the Gaming Authority explained that the certificate of good standing, which is required by the agency, was not produced by the trending gambling attraction but is necessary to qualify the business for their licence renewal.
According to the Gaming Authority, the certificate of good standing is just one of nine requirements needed by a business when applying for a Betting Shop Licence. The others include an approved building plan; approval letter from the Central Housing and Planning Authority; a fire safety certificate from the Guyana Fire Service; receipt of deposit made to the Accountant General; copy of certificate of incorporation; copy of identification of Directors; copy of Tax Identification Number (TIN) certificate; and a completed application form for trade and miscellaneous licences.
Before 2018, a letter of good standing from the Authority did not form part of the process but was later introduced to ensure due diligence for the purpose of Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), it added.
Further, it added that the Gaming Authority is the supervisory authority of casinos, lotteries and betting shops for purposes of the AML/CFT Act (as amended) while the Guyana Revenue Authority is the licencing authority for betting shops. Section 9 (2) of the Tax Act, gives the power to licence for betting premises to the Guyana Revenue Authority.
According to the statement issued by the agency, it had informed all applicants for the good standing certification of the purpose and time frames in which the activities can be concluded.
Additionally they were told that this process is in keeping with Section 22 of the AML/CFT Act (as amended), the Gaming Authority said.
“The certification they were advised, can be withdrawn, if any evidence is uncovered in the future, that points to any breach of the AML/CFT Act 2009 (as amended).The time frame is in keeping with internationally recognised standard, which range from as little as six months for organisations, such as, Superbet, to as long as 18 months. This is dependent on the depth of investigation needed to be conducted,” the Authority stated.
It noted that Superbet had applied for their good standing certificate on September 14, 2018 and during the course of the Gaming Authority’s due diligence in January 2019, was provided with information, that one of the principals of Guiana Holding Inc, was convicted of money-laundering and served a four-year sentence.
Following these discoveries, the Authority said it enhanced it due diligence and issued a letter to Guiana Holding Inc to seek clarification on February 14, 2019.
The agency reportedly responded on March 4, 2019, and the Gaming Authority took steps to verify the information.
“The response from Guiana Holding Inc and additional information received by the Gaming Authority on April 5, 2019, during the verification process, after careful analysis, led to determination, that an AML/CFT audit of Superbet operations was necessary to determine the veracity of the information received. This would allow the Gaming Authority to make an informed determination on the issuing of the good standing certification.”
According to the statement, this was communicated to Guiana Holding Inc, on April 23, 2019, and they have in principal, agreed to the audit.
The Gaming Authority has been in the process of organising the audit team, it stated, adding that a non-disclosure agreement has been sent to the said organisation for signature and for submission of a proposal and cost. A deadline of July 31, 2019, has been set for the conclusion and submission of the audit report.
The outcome of the audit will determine the Gaming Authority’s position on the issuing of the good standing certificate, the agency said.
Prior to this requirement, Superbet has been operating in Guyana for more than five years. The business now has over 175 locations across Guyana, which bring in income for over 500 persons.
Kisoensingh’s lawyer, Anil Nandlall, has already said he is ready to represent his client in the court as he feels he is being victimised.