$4.1B money laundering case against father, son discharged

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Money laundering charges against Kenneth Kellawan Ramnarine and his son, Damian Brandon Ramnarine were dismissed by Magistrate Rhondel Weaver after she upheld a no-case submission on Tuesday.

The father and son of Somerset Court, Herstelling, East Bank Demerara (EBD) were slapped with 268 counts of money laundering amounting to over $4.1 billion. The duo was represented by Attorney, Bernard DaSilva.

Kenneth Kellawan Ramnarine, a taxi driver along with his son Damian, a salesman; and Kenneth’s reputed wife Yevette Nalini Saroop, a businesswoman, were initially arraigned on February 9, 2023, each facing 134 money-laundering charges and were remanded to prison.

The father and son are charged jointly, while Saroop, who is alleged to have conspired with them, has been charged separately.

Having been under the radar of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for some time, the three-person family was arrested at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, as they attempted to flee to the United States of America.

SOCU Head, Assistant Police Commissioner Fazil Karimbaksh had stated that its suspicions were primarily honed on the large number of unsubstantiated cash deposits made via Kenneth’s business accounts of Ken’s Trading Enterprise.

The sources of funds, and declarations submitted to several commercial banks, show that most of the deposits are attributed to the proceeds of sales from biodegradable food boxes sold to local businesses, in particular Chinese restaurants, SOCU has disclosed.

Karimbaksh revealed that a substantial number of wire transfers, amounting to over $3.7 billion, were sent to 22 companies in China under the pretext of importing raw materials to produce biodegradable products, while other sums, totalling over $4.1B, were disguised locally.

He pointed out that investigators did not find any legitimate source of these funds which the accused had wire-transferred out of Guyana, adding that their actions suggested that they may be operating as nominees for some Chinese businesses, and were also facilitating tax evasion through Ken’s Trading Enterprise.

Investigators at SOCU, including several senior officers, had contacted several prominent businesses in Georgetown during the investigations, which commenced in August 2020, and the businesses and persons the accused persons listed on their source of funding declaration forms have vehemently denied doing such large transactions with them.

As a result, SOCU noted, it conducted several covert and overt investigations and operations over three years, monitoring the family and their lifestyles until enough evidence was collected beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOCU is that unit of the Police Force that is designated with responsibility for ensuring that money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes are fully and thoroughly investigated.

Guyana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act provides for the establishment and management of a Financial Intelligence Unit; provides for unlawful proceeds of all serious offences to be identified, traced, frozen, seized, and forfeited; provides for comprehensive powers for the prosecution of money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes; provides for the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime and terrorist property; requires reporting entities to take preventative measures to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing; and provides for civil forfeiture of assets and matters connected therewith.