External audit firm joins corruption probe at Gold Board

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By Kurt Campbell

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud. [iNews' Photo]
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – An external auditing firm has joined local law enforcement in the ongoing probe into allegations of corruption at the Guyana Gold Board, Bartica and Georgetown Offices.

This was revealed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud and comes on the heels of reports that several staffers were suspected to be involved in gold tampering at the Bartica office, which resulted in some seven persons being taken into police custody for questioning.

Persaud told iNews (www.inewsguyana.com) that there was always the concern that there may be corruption in the Board’s operations, adding that he hopes that the police will dig to the bottom and have appropriate action taken.

“I hope that criminal acts and violations will be addressed if found.”

He said if the need arises, international help will also be sought to investigate the allegations.

Currently, the Bartica office has been closed to facilitate the investigation and according to the Natural Resources Minister, the Georgetown Office has also come under severe scrutiny.

According to a media release from the Guyana Gold Board, the current investigation is being done on an internal basis and no licensed gold dealers of the GGB are being investigated at this time.

iNews (www.inewsguyana.com)  understands despite the reports of gold tampering, the Guyana Gold Board believes that in the last two years, there have been improvements at both the technical and policy level with the approval and implementation of upgraded standard operating procedures for the finance, audit and laboratory departments.

As such, it was reported that a number of initiatives were enforced through the Board of Directors of the GGB; with full endorsement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

This resulted in two systems review of the general operations of the GGB by an independent external auditor. The first was done in February 2012, whilst the second was done in January and February of 2014.

Further, the Board of Directors implemented the recommendations of these systems review with the support of the Ministry of National Resources and the Environment.

Some of these included the confirmation of the General Manager, the hiring of an Assistant General Manager, Assistant Account and a Legal/Compliance Officer and the establishment of a sub-committee on the sale of gold, which comprises of some of the Directors.

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