Goldsmith Richard Ramjit, whose jewellery had been seized at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) earlier this year, was today notified by ranks of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) that he will be charged with exporting gold without a license and failure to declare his gold jewellery.
INews understands that this morning SOCU ranks conducted a raid at the man’s home in Better Hope, East Coast Demerara (ECD) after presenting a search warrant.
Upon completion of the search nothing incriminating was found and Ramjit was then invited to the SOCU headquarters in Georgetown. Ramjit’s lawyer, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in an invited comment stated that when his client arrived at the SOCU headquarters he was then notified that he will be charged with the above mentioned offences, and was subsequently placed on bail.
“I maintain most resolutely that SOCU officers continue to abuse their powers and misuse the law in order to attempt to justify their illegal actions of seizing the jewellery in the first place,” Nandlall declared.
“It is obvious that this gentleman was not exporting gold jewellery he had on his person, so they are stretching the law to a state of absurdity in order to justify their actions. Of course the charges are going to be vigorously defended and hopefully justice will prevail,” Nandlall stated.
Nandlall had earlier noted that the move by the Special Organised Crime Unit to seize jewellery from the goldsmith while he was proceeding to leave the country, without reasonable grounds, is “nothing more but an abuse and misuse of the provisions” of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act.
Following the seizure of the goldsmith’s jewellery at the airport, Nandlall – in the capacity as Ramjit’s lawyer, had commented: “In my humble view, this is nothing more but an abuse and misuse of the provisions of the AML/CFT Act. Ramjit is an ordinary goldsmith who runs a small stall located on Robb Street. He owns the necklace and gold band in question for over 5 years and has worn them numerous times when travelling in and out of the country to the USA.”
“He has never once been questioned before by Customs Officers or indeed anyone else about these pieces of jewellery either at CJIA or JFK International Airport…it is obvious that because the abusive and unlawful actions of the SOCU officer at the airport is now being challenged in the Court, that a case is now being fabricated and concocted, utilizing the vast powers contained in the AML/CFT Act, to justify and defend this misuse of power,” Nandlall had stated.
More importantly, he said the law provides for the SOCU Officer to have had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the jewellery has some connection to proceeds of crime or money laundering, in the first place, before he seized it.
“In this case, the SOCU officer has seized first and then proceeds to obtain a Court Order to justify his unlawful detention of my client’s property while he launches investigations to determine whether it was derived from proceeds of crime or money laundering. So he seized without reasonable grounds for suspicion. In other words, they have turned the law upside down. This entire case is a travesty of justice,” Nandlall added. (Kristen Macklingam)