Foreign support may be necessary to stamp out gold smuggling – Jagdeo

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Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said gold smuggling is a serious concern locally and the government is hoping to secure foreign support to stamp out this issue even as the country hopes to strengthen its gold export systems.

The Vice President, during his press conference on Thursday, said there is a robust, multi-agency system in place for the lawful export of gold. And though that system is quite robust, he said additional safeguards can be put in place.

“Clearly we have to strengthen this arrangement further and possibly by some review, by an external consultant to see what additional safeguards we can put in place form gold declared legally and shipped through the system,” Jagdeo said.

Arguably the bigger concern, however, is how to deal with the illegal export of gold.

First, Jagdeo explained that it is not likely that illegal gold shipments pass through the lawful, multi-agency system. As such, no taxes are collected and the illegal gold could be used for money laundering.

So to deter this, he believes that foreign support- particularly from the countries receiving the illegal gold- would be helpful.

“We need to strengthen the charges and the penalties for the illegal export of gold or smuggling of gold by these large exporters,” he added.

This consideration comes after the United States sanctioned two members of the Mohamed’s family and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Mae Thomas over alleged gold smuggling and corruption.

The US Department of the Treasury, in a statement this week, said between 2019 and 2023, Mohamed’s Enterprise omitted more than 10 thousand kilogrammes of gold from import and export declarations and avoided paying more than US $50 million in duty taxes to the Government of Guyana.

Mohamed’s Enterprise has also been accused of bribing customs officials to falsify import and export documents, as well as to facilitate illicit gold shipments.

With these sanctions in place, the Government of Guyana is assessing what steps need to be taken now to comply with those penalties. Jagdeo said Bank of Guyana and other local financial bodies are creating a full report on what actions are needed to ensure that the country is in full compliance with the sanctions.

Already, the cambio license for the Mohameds is to be cancelled.

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