SOCU conducts raids, arrests as Bartica gold dealer investigations continue

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…guns, ammo unearthed at properties

Employees of alleged fraudster Saddiqui Rasul were on Wednesday taken into Police custody following several raids in Bartica and Georgetown by members of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

Based on information received the men were taken into custody following the discovery of several illegal firearms and ammunition, documents and a vehicle allegedly belonging to the embattled gold dealer.

A source related that the raids were conducted at several locations in Bartica and Georgetown, including Kitty and Prashad Nagar.

Agents of the SOCU removing a Jet Ski and motorcycles ( Royston Drakes photo)

This publication understands that the raids were conducted in light of the money laundering investigation that was launched against Rasul and his alleged corruption with the Guyana Gold Board.

Rasul was also asked to visit the SOCU office. Up to late Wednesday evening, he was being questioned in the company of his attorney.

However, a search was also conducted at the house of Rasul’s close associate Ricardo Fagundes.

After several hours of searching, agents of the SOCU removed three motorcycles, a jet ski and a bag containing a quantity of ammunition.

It is unclear if the motorcycles had the appropriate documents, but members of the family were invited to the SOCU office for further questioning.

Only last week, one black 2013 Hilux belonging to Rasul was seized by SOCU after it was discovered that it bore false number plates. It is believed that the vehicle was imported from Brazil without the necessary paperwork and taxes paid.

The authorities are still on the hunt for a second vehicle similar in nature.

A money laundering investigation was recently launched into a company with which Rasul is closely associated.

It is believed that the company R Mining Inc would have made several transactions with the Guyana Gold Board that have now come under scrutiny. The investigation is being led by SOCU. It was reported that Rasul conducted business with the Gold Board using two companies – R Mining Inc and SSS Minerals Trading Enterprises.

SSS Minerals Trading Enterprises is, however, licensed to buy gold from miners and sell to the Gold Board, but based on records at hand, the bulk of the gold sold was from R Mining, which was only supposed to be engaged in mining activities.

It is believed that by using R Mining Inc, Rasul was exempted from paying taxes amounting to some $100 million for the months the transactions were done. This is according to sources from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

It was further reported that during the transaction period (September-November), Rasul’s companies sold 31,790 ounces of gold to the Gold Board, which amounted to $7.67 billion.

With this recent revelation, the Natural Resources Ministry has ordered an investigation into the members of the new Board of Directors of the Gold Board.

Rasul is believed to have robbed and conned several gold dealers of hundreds of millions of dollars.

He presently has several lawsuits pending from clients that he took money from to purchase gold, but instead, fraudulently converted it to his own use.

One of the biggest frauds, however, was in relation to him collecting $956M from a local bank after depositing six bounced cheques between March 21 and 24, 2017 in the amounts of $290 million, $96 million, $138 million, $89 million, $298 million and $45 million.

The incident became public three weeks ago and after a few hours, Rasul turned himself in to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters in the company of his lawyer.

Further, it was reported that the female bank manager colluded with Rasul to change the cheques.

He has since been placed on $3 million bail after he was slapped with the fraud charges.

It is believed that the woman did not follow protocol stipulated by the Bank before clearing the cheques.

She is presently being investigated by the Major Crimes Unit of the Guyana Police Force.

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