Oct 12, 2017
The Guyana Bank For Trade and Industry (GBTI) appears to have erred when it failed or refused in a timely manner to hand over critical information to investigators.
Yesterday, Bank of Guyana, which regulates the operations of financial institutions, said that once a court order was issued, then the information on accounts must be provided.
According to a spokesperson, the law is clear.
“If they have to provide information as per the law then they have to do it. There is no conflict. If law requires you to submit the information based on the court order then you would have to do it. That is the court of law. However, we have a lawyer who is helping us with that.”
GBTI, a privately-controlled bank, is facing fire from the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which investigates financial crimes.
Since February, SOCU has been asking the bank for transactions relating to the US dollar accounts of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). Investigators also wanted details of other accounts. A number of other commercial banks have complied.
However, SOCU is claiming that it faced hurdles with GBTI. Three orders came from the Magistrates’ Courts and one from the High Court for the bank to hand over the information which includes details of transfers to banks overseas, and who would have ordered the transfers from GRDB.
However, SOCU is claiming that GBTI offered a number of excuses and deliberately delayed complying with the requests. Not only did the bank claim that new software glitches had caused records to become unavailable, but it appeared the bank allegedly destroyed some records that SOCU wanted.
The alleged destruction of records would be breaching tough, recently-enacted anti-money laundering laws which mandate financial institutions to keep records, including paperwork, for at least seven years.
Recently, SOCU prepared charges relating to contempt against the eight directors of the bank and there may be other alleged breaches that could land some of the bank’s officials before the courts.
In essence, SOCU is investigating over US$500M in rice proceeds that GRDB was handling for the previous administrations of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, under the PetroCaribe oil-for-rice deal with neighbouring Venezuela.
The then government released oil proceeds money to pay for the rice. GRDB handled that money.
It is believed that GRDB’s officials reportedly misused the GBTI’s bank accounts, making questionable payments and transfers and even lending money to some millers and a farmers’ group that is part of the hierarchy of the PPP structure.
Several former GRDB’s officials as well as two board members have been slapped with charges.
GBTI, in a published statement this week, made it clear that it may head to the court rather than give up customers’ information.
Poor excuse who they fooling!!