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Guyana defends imposition of sanctions without evidence from U.S.; Ali says not compromised by connection to Mohameds


by Denis Chabrol (Demerara Waves) President Irfaan Ali on Thursday said government decided to impose sanctions on Nazar Mohamed and his son, Azruddin as well their businesses without any evidence from the United States (U.S.), but relied on the announcement by the Treasury Department.

“Suppose, at the time of sanctions, there was a transaction in process, gold being sold to the gold board, how that is treated,” he told a news conference.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 11 froze the Mohameds assets and blocked almost all American businesses from doing business with them, triggering the Bank of Guyana’s revocation of their foreign exchange cambio licence.

Dr. Ali stayed clear of specifically saying whether the Mohameds gold dealer’s licence and gold mining permits would also be pulled, but stressed that they could no longer do business. “Everything is suspended for that company. They can’t transact,” he said. “Everything is suspended. Let me make this clear. All transactions with the Gold Board,” he added. He said “all the banks were associated with the Mohameds.”

Relying on the independence of the Guyana Gold Board and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), he opted not state categorically whether the those authorisations have been pulled. But, he opted to say “we can’t operate without information” that the Ministry of Finance and the GRA have requested from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about the Mohameds’ alleged US$50 million tax evasion on 10,000 kilogrammes of gold. “If there is a discrepancy between what was declared here and what was declared there which leads to the tax evasion issue, then that helps us to build a case and help GRA and the other agencies to take the necessary actions that are required,” he said. U.S. Ambassador Nicole Theriot last week said she has recommended to the agencies that unclassified information be provided to Guyana.

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