GRA must give personal tax info to SOCU to aid major money-laundering probe – Court rules

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The High Court on Monday ordered the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to hand over details relating to the returns declaration and other taxpayer information of an individual to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), the Guyana Police Force said in a statement on Wednesday.

SOCU had asked for the information to aid with an ongoing money-laundering investigation but the GRA had refused and made an application for a variation of a Production Order.

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George dismissed the application filed by the GRA, ruling in favour of SOCU.

The GRA’s Commissioner-General will have to comply with the Production Order granted by the Chief Justice and produce the information within 14 days, according to the police press release.

SOCU said its money-laundering investigation involves in excess of $103 million.

The Revenue Authority had refused to produce the information on the grounds that it is obligated to safeguard the returns declaration and other taxpayer information in accordance with Section 23 of the Revenue Act.

But the High Court emphasised that Sections 111 and 112 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11 is clear as it supersedes Section 23 of the Revenue Act Cap. 79:04 and protects the Guyana Revenue Authority from liability where documents/information are produced to SOCU.

The court further ordered costs against the Guyana Revenue Authority in the sum of $75,000.

The Production Order was granted pursuant to Section 24 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11, seeking the production of documents in the possession of the Commissioner-General or a duly authorised officer/agent of the Guyana Revenue Authority.

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