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Govt launches investigation into illegal gold trade – Guyana Times

…miners warned of dire consequences

In light of dropping gold declarations that are at odds with the investments being made in the sector, the Natural Resources Ministry has announced that an investigation will be launched into whether gold smuggling/illegal trade is responsible for this disparity.
This was announced in a statement on Monday, in which the Ministry reminded miners that they are required to sell all the gold they find to licensed gold dealers/traders or to the Guyana Gold Board.

The Ministry further reminded them that it is illegal to purchase gold without the requisite licence. According to the Ministry, the relevant agencies are tasked with ensuring the laws surrounding the selling of gold are upheld and further, an investigation has been launched into the disparity in gold declarations and investments.
“Emanating from a recent analysis and assessment, the Government of Guyana has noted the significant difference between the production of gold and the declaration/sale of gold to licensed gold dealers, traders, and/or the Guyana Gold Board,” the Ministry said.

“This is evident from the reduction in gold declaration to date when compared to current mining activities and concomitant investment within the sector. In this regard, an investigation has been launched aimed at having those involved in such action face the full force of the law.”
According to the Ministry, persons found to be in breach will face the full force of the law. This, according to the Ministry, can even lead to miners with existing claims losing their holdings in addition to being prosecuted.
“Persons in breach of this legal requirement will be prosecuted, and in the case of miners with existing property tenures within the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), they may be in jeopardy of losing such tenures. Miners culpable of selling gold to unlicensed dealers/traders, in addition to being prosecuted, may be restricted from the mining sector,” the Ministry’s strongly worded statement read.

In July, there had been reports that Brazilian federal authorities had launched an investigation into a Guyanese businessman suspected of laundering millions worth of illegally mined gold into that country.
The probe was initiated after authorities discovered the involvement of an alleged Guyanese businessman, who has ties to the gold mining industry in Guyana and conducts business in Brazil under suspicious circumstances.
Reports are that Federal Police agents suspect that the Guyanese businessman has a Brazilian partner who aided in the movement of funds through the companies.

At the time, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had warned of tough measures and consequences for any miner found engaged in such illegal activities. In fact, Jagdeo had admitted that Government has been monitoring the decline in gold declarations, with at least one foreign company on its radar for declaring lower than usual figures.
“It’s absolutely true that we’ve noticed, especially in the last couple of years, a significant deviation [in gold declarations] and with the story coming out from Brazil, now we realise that it [gold] may be diverting,” the Vice President told a news conference on Thursday last.

“We had, at one stage, thought that Venezuela gold was coming into Guyana to bypass the sanctions and go out…now we’re realising that it’s actually our gold going into Brazil and obviously to bypass the five per cent royalty and the two per cent final tax.”
The Bank of Guyana (BoG), in its first quarter statistical report on the performance of the economy for the year, had said gold declarations decreased by 5.3 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
“…gold declarations were lower by 5.3 per cent, as local and licensed dealers’ declarations contracted by 23.9 per cent,” the report noted. However, it added that “the declarations from Aurora Gold Mine Inc (AGM), Zijin Mining’s subsidiary in Guyana, the sole operating foreign company, increased by 65.4 per cent, when compared to the same period one year prior.”
For 2022, the declaration was 486,415 ounces; in 2021 it was 499,054 ounces; 2020 recorded 584,291 ounces and 2019 some 634,905 ounces.

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