Gold smuggling: GGDMA calls on Govt to use US findings as “launching pad” to prosecute ‘bad actors’

…concerned about hints to remove mining concessions

Businessmen Nazar Mohamed and his son Azruddin

Recent findings by the US Department of Treasury have resulted in sanctions subsequently being imposed against prominent players in the gold industry; thus, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) is reiterating its calls for the Government to address smuggling, and, more importantly, to take the findings as a launching pad to prosecute the bad actors.
The GGDMA, in a release, has said it has always been anti-smuggling, and has welcomed the findings and the Government’s commitment to pursuing a full investigation into the matter and prosecuting those involved.
“The GGDMA has always urged members to sell only to licensed dealers or the Guyana Gold Board. The gold mining industry has a long history in Guyana, and has been a pillar of the economy long before oil was discovered. Miners have stood with Guyana, and the industry has persevered through all the ups and downs of Guyana’s economic growth,” the organization has stated.
Moreso, the GGDMA is urging Government not to use the recent disclosure by the US as a broad brush to paint all miners as smugglers.
“The majority of miners are not engaged in smuggling. They are in the business of mining, and have worked hard for their place in society. There are undoubtedly smugglers in the industry, and we will continue to support the Government to root them out”, the GGDMA has said.
The GGDMA is expressing concern at hints to remove certain incentives and concessions that it has fought for on behalf of the industry.
“We urge the authorities not to give in to this knee-jerk reaction and to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”, as this would be unacceptable. The mining industry has fought long and hard to get concessions which have helped bolster the industry through the many tough times”, that body has said.
The GGDMA is contending that it would be grossly irresponsible to hold the actions of a few against the majority of miners. It added that, due to massive labour shortages at all levels in the sector, legitimate operators are also suffering from low production, due to their inability to operate normally. Consequently, the total production of gold from the miners who are selling to legitimate channels has also been greatly diminished. As such, benefits to these compliant organizations should not be taken away.

Mohamed’s Enterprise

The GGDMA is imploring all miners to sell their gold to the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) or to licensed gold dealers.
The body is also reminding miners to ensure they properly document all their activities, and that they receive a periodic statement of their transactions from the authorized gold dealers.
“This statement should be with the gold dealer’s records presented to GGB. This verification is important, since it will ensure that your gold is properly accounted for and that your taxes are being correctly paid to the Government”, that body has cautioned.
Last week, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned prominent businessman Nazar Mohamed and his son Azruddin Mohamed, along with their company Mohamed’s Enterprise, and former Permanent Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry, Mae Thomas, for their alleged roles in public corruption in Guyana.
The US Treasury Dept has also alleged that Mohamed’s Enterprise evaded Guyana’s tax on gold exports and defrauded the Guyana Government of tax revenues by under-declaring gold exports to Guyanese authorities.
Between 2019 and 2023, Mohamed’s Enterprise is alleged to have omitted more than 10 thousand kilograms of gold from import and export declarations, and avoided paying more than US$50 million in duty taxes to the Government of Guyana.
In addition, US authorities have stated that the company bribed customs officials to falsify import and export documents, as well as to facilitate illicit gold shipments.
Following the release, the Government of Guyana stated that the Finance Ministry and relevant statutory agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), would be requesting additional information on the matters highlighted, in order to aid local law enforcement agencies in their investigations.
Several days later, the Bank of Guyana (BoG) moved to revoke the cambio licence issued to Mohamed’s Enterprise – one of the companies fingered in gold smuggling and corruption allegations along with their owners. This is one of a series of actions taken by the Guyana Government since US sanctions were announced against the Mohameds as well as three of their companies, including Mohamed’s Enterprise.
Meanwhile, as recently as Thursday, President Dr Irfaan Ali further stated that all transactions between the Guyana Gold Board and other Government agencies with the US-sanctioned businessmen and businesses have been suspended.