“I am not, or would not be, compromised” – Pres Ali

…says no one is above the law

– as Govt agencies cut ties with US-sanctioned companies

President Dr Irfaan Ali has declared that he is in no way compromised in his association with Guyanese businessmen Nazar and Azruddin Mohamed, who along with their companies are facing sanctions from the United States of America over allegations of gold smuggling and public corruption.
During a press conference at State House on Thursday, questions were raised about Ali’s connection to the Mohamed family, but, in a frank response, President Ali maintained: “I am not compromised, or would not be compromised, in any way, shape or form. Not me!”
He admitted to knowing the Mohameds, as most Guyanese leaders do, and further explained that his relationship with them stemmed from their shared religious faith. He also recalled attending the same mosques and camps with the family.
In regard to his using a vehicle belonging to the Mohameds during the 2020 elections period, the Head of State clarified that that was for security purposes. He highlighted that this situation was never hidden from the public.
“The vehicle…was used during the elections campaign and after, when my security apparatus advised me that I needed a safe vehicle because of the distance I was traversing, and in their assessment, the threat that I was exposed to. I didn’t hide it; I didn’t drive in a tunnel…it was open and transparent. And I did not use that vehicle upon assuming office [on August 2, 2020],” he explained.
Ali further pointed out that the Mohamed family is known by the majority of Guyanese persons, given the number of years they have been in business. The Mohameds operate businesses in the financial, gold, construction and other sectors.
“Guyana is a small country… There is no one in this room who can tell me they don’t know the Mohameds… All the banks were associated with the Mohameds. All of the major businesses might have been associated with the Mohameds. The Mohameds have been in business before I was born,” he explained.
Despite his previous association with the Mohameds, the Guyanese Head of State made it clear that he is committed to the rule of law.
“I said the rule of law is the rule of law. And the rule of law must apply equally to everyone. No one is above the law. That is all I want, for the rule of law to work. There is no agenda,” he posited.
Meanwhile, the elder Mohamed, who had campaigned on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the last Local Government Elections (LGE) and won his constituency at the Eccles Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), has since resigned from the Chairmanship post.
The Mohameds, along with their businesses and former Government official Mae Thomas, were sanctioned by the US following an investigation into alleged gold smuggling and alleged corruption. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned the Mohameds along with their companies, including Mohamed’s Enterprise, for allegedly smuggling some 10,000 kilogrammes of gold out of Guyana between 2019 and 2023, thus avoiding paying more than US$50 million in duty taxes.
The Government has since written to the United States, requesting additional information on the investigation. Already, it has suspended the Mohameds’ Cambio licences in a move to safeguard the country’s financial system from facing any implications as a result of the sanctions. In fact, President Ali further disclosed on Thursday that while preliminary analysis shows that there have been no implications from these sanctions, measures have nevertheless been taken to axe the Mohameds’ connections with state agencies and other institutions.
“Everything is suspended for that company; they can’t(conduct any) transaction… Everything is suspended; all their transactions with the Gold Board… What you need to understand is that the substance of the sanctions, which is doing business and integrating the business, has been adhered to… So, all other [state] agencies, in keeping with the sanctions… would’ve ended or paused relationships [with the Mohameds],” he posited.
The Head of State has defended the decision to revoke the Mohameds’ cambio licence when action is still to be taken on their gold exportation and mining licences – which were the subject of the US sanctions.
According to President Ali, the relevant state agencies are currently in the process of dealing with those licences.
He explained that while that process has been activated, there is due diligence that has to be followed, which would necessitate Guyana getting the information it requested from the US authorities.

“The agencies are independent, and they will make all the necessary decisions…that are relevant to this case… But due process has to be taken, which is going… I can’t say whether [the gold exportation and mining licences have] been revoked as yet. I know there is a process of engagement, the process with the banks, the process with the Gold Board and mining; all of those processes are ongoing…,” he informed.
“The Government is awaiting the information… GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) and the Ministry of Finance have requested the information. We cannot operate without the information. When that information comes, and if there is a discrepancy between what was declared here and what was declared there, which leads to the tax evasion issue, then (it) helps us to build the case and hold GRA and the other agencies to take the necessary actions that are required,” President Ali noted. (G-8)