SOCU charges goldsmith for illegally exporting jewellery

CJIA seizure

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has laid charges against goldsmith Richard Ramjit, whose jewellery was seized at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in connection to a money laundering investigation.
Ramjit of Better Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) was confiscated of a gold chain and a wrist band, items which he claimed to have had in his possession for years and had worn on numerous occasions when travelling to the USA.
The jewellery is said to be valued at $3.9 million.
Guyana Times understands that the goldsmith was notified on Monday that he will be charged with exporting gold without a license and for failure to declare his jewellery.
Ramjit’s Lawyer Anil Nandlall has since posited that the charges against his client are absurd.
“I maintain most resolutely that SOCU officers continue to abuse their powers and misuse the law in order to attempt to justify their illegal actions of seizing the jewellery in the first place. It is obvious that this gentleman was not exporting gold jewellery he had on his person, so they are stretching the law to a state of absurdity in order to justify their actions,” he stated.
Ramjit had already filed a $10 million lawsuit against the government after he was detained at the CJIA.
The matter was called for the first time on March 17 in the Constitutional Court before Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and leave was granted to file Affidavits in Answers.
The matter was adjourned to April 14.
Notably, this incident brought to the fore concerns about how potential travellers will be affected by this new legislation, which allows designated officers to seize jewellery worth in excess of US$10,000.
Local jewellery traders have already expressed concerns over how these clampdowns, coupled with the antiquated Customs Act, will impact their operations.
According to reports, the Act prohibits individuals from leaving the country with jewellery worth in excess of G$2000 (females), G$1500 (males), and G$500 (children under 12).
It also stipulates that persons desirous of taking out jewellery valued more than the allowable amount, they must be in receipt of a written approval from the Finance Minister.
However, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had pointed out to Guyana Times that SOCU is operating under the AML/CFT Act so there really is no need for concern. He posited that the Customs Act, like hundreds of other laws, are outdated and hence not being enforced.