“Smuggling does not benefit Guyana and only serves to enrich a few greedy individuals, additionally it opens up several avenues for additional illegal activities,” said the association in a statement.
Well-placed sources have told Demerara Waves Online News that several smugglers of the precious yellow metal are believed to be also involved in the drug trade. The sources said in some cases the gold and cocaine are exchanged and the metal is smuggled out to the United States (US) as ‘scrap gold’ and others are taken on light aircraft to neighbouring Suriname where it attracts lower taxes. Some of the gold, according to the sources, ends up as far as Abu Dhabi.
The miners association called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the reports of gold smuggling and
“The GGDMA hopes that a proper investigation will be conducted to ensure that legitimate miners are cleared of this stain. Legitimate miners do not smuggle gold, we are in the business of mining and work hard to ensure that our practices are free from hassles and are compliant with the law,” the representative body added.
According to the miners association, it “does not condone, support or in any way encourage the smuggling of gold.” The GGDMA urged miners to sell their gold to the Guyana Gold Board or licensed dealers and ensure that they always demand a receipt for their transaction.
The GGDMA says it has a proven track record, especially during the past six years, in encouraging members and miners to sell only to legitimate dealers. “It is, therefore, saddening that some in the industry seem to believe that they can tarnish the reputation of legitimate operators.”
Minister responsible for Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has confirmed that the United States (US) and Guyana are probing gold smuggling.
Sources estimate that between late last year and early this year, at least GUY$42 billion worth of gold have been smuggled to the US alone as “scrap gold”. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) says Customs Officers do not turn a blind eye to gold leaving the country illegally because it is the police and Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) that search baggage of outgoing passengers and are responsible for calling in customs officers whenever necessary.