By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) is in talks with the owners of the MV Delta Dies for the release of the cargo ship which was found transporting 192.4 kilos of cocaine on January 06 through the, en-route to Europe.
The street value of the drugs is worth approximately US$800M, according to the GRA.
The tax agency’s Head Khurshid Sattaur, in a telephone interview with iNews on Wednesday (January 14), explained that a fine is likely to be imposed before the ship is released, but could not give a definitive figure.
He instead explained thata number of factors have to be taken into consideration before a decision is made on the sum of the fine. Additionally, Sattaur explained that these discussions are also being held with a number of other key playersincluding the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).
“We have to take into account all the various factors involved; the quantity of the cocaine found onboard, what is also on the vessel, where it is right now, how it is impeding business commercial activity…you have to look at precedence of these matters…we have to look at whether there is guilt on the part of the ship owners like whether they are liable and held accountable, all of that has to be looked at,” he told iNews.
He went on to add, “you can go ahead and do forfeiture of whether you can bring settlement, so with the other party you have to negotiate; you just can’t say you want $1 B, its whether they have it to pay…you have an agreement on these things and then you also have to look at the other angle. It’s very costly to have these boats docked and you can’t resolve their issues, who bear the cost. We don’t want to put unnecessary burden on them.”
He noted that the fine will not be based on the street value of the drugs.
“It has to be based on the guilt of the party involved and whether you can have a case in Court to proceed with. All these things you have to take into account.”
Sattaur says he is hoping to bring this matter to a close soon; noting that further delays can cause the fine to decrease.
The drugs were found stashed in a container on board the vessel that had last docked in neighboring Suriname before arriving in Guyana.