Guyana probes smuggled goods allegations tied to China

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) —Guyana authorities are investigating allegations the Chinese embassy has been using its diplomatic status to bring in tax-free goods from China and distribute them to local merchants.

Guyana Revenue Commissioner Godfrey Statia told The Associated Press that customs officers reported the embassy had been receiving unusually large shipments. Shipments tied to a diplomatic mission are not fully searched, and the government said that Chinese officials have imported more containers with commercial items than all other embassies combined, including the U.S.

“It is an area of concern,” Statia said, adding that there’s a “vast difference” in prices in items being sold by Chinese-owned stores compared with the Guyanese ones.

Chinese-owned stores have been popping up across Guyana in recent years, selling everything from balloons to tiles to glass windows.

The Chinese embassy called the allegations baseless and said in a statement it will investigate the matter and that it reserves the right to take legal action.

The investigation comes as Chinese public and private corporations invest millions of dollars in Guyana, including a renovation at the country’s main international airport.

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