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Guyana cracking down on illegal gold exporters

June 21, 2024

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The Guyana government says it will be seeking “additional information on all exporters” as it moves towards taking steps to gather data on gold exports to verify whether the information provided by exporters aligns with the declarations made to local authorities.

President Irfaan Ali said the initiative is part of the government’s comprehensive strategy to combat gold smuggling and regulate exportation effectively.

“We are proactively seeking additional information on all exporters to ensure that the information matches what is declared here in Guyana,” he said, adding that a task force comprising of the Attorney General,  Anil Nandlall, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Ashni Singh and the Commissioner General of Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia has been established.

The head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Governor of the Central Bank and the commissioner of the Guyana Gold Board are also members of this task force.

President Ali told reporters that the unit’s primary objective is to identify weaknesses in the ‘rigid’ existing system, enhance enforcement mechanisms, increase surveillance, and establish a specialised task force to improve interagency cooperation and gather international support.

He said the unit will also be required to explore the strengthening cooperation between bilateral partners in gold exportation.

“There will be a new treaty that has to be examined, new partnership agreement, new MOUs [and] we’ll have to improve the coordination among stakeholders,” he said, noting that the unit will have to develop data analytics to track gold exports using technology through GPS tracking.

It will also use radio frequency identification and other mechanisms to monitor gold exports.

“We are also looking at some of the things discussed in the modernisation is whether we should have a quota on exporters and how we want to align our national regulations with AML-CFT (Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism) standards and treat offence of smuggling as a predicate offence, which is tax evasion.”

He said this is being done while the government awaits further information on recent sanctions by the United States authorities on three Guyanese nationals.

Ali said that Guyana’s latest evaluation indicated that the country’s assessment of risk, national coordination, and operationalisation of the FIU was praised.

“Approximately, 88 per cent  of our legislative requirements were found to be compliant or largely compliant, with 12 per cent as partially compliant, which we are currently working on to address through measures such as the drafting of the new bills related to companies, trusts, and the management of depreciating confiscated assets,” Ali said.

“We completed our national risk assessment in 2021, providing an updated view of the country’s framework. We completed the development of an action plan towards [the] targeting of resources to adequately combat and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in the country,” he explained.

The government also rectified several legislative and administrative deficiencies that prevented the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) from participating in the global information exchange body for other FIUs.

Earlier this week, Nandlall defended the government’s commitment to fight money laundering, saying “we have a total of 187 cases pending in the criminal justice system in relation to money laundering-type cases”.

But he said the government exerts no control over the judiciary and as such, cannot control how quickly the cases are dealt with.

“The point I am making is that one can’t fault Guyana for lack of attempts and commitment to deal with organised crime,” Nandlall said.

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