Jagmohan writes that Benn demands investigation into gold trade for ‘good health’
Prominent gold trader and businessman Tamesh Jagmohan says a letter sent to Home Secretary Robeson Benn asking authorities to investigate his business so a ‘sound bill of health’ can to be issued had already been drafted.
The unorthodox move raised eyebrows as Benn would have no mandate to initiate such a process and authorities would be woefully ill-prepared to conduct such a review of Jagmohan’s sprawling business interests, which recently include mining quarries under the current administration.
Regulatory sources told this newspaper that “Mr. Jagmohan’s request is unusual” and “there is no need to write to the police for an investigation to give corporate public permission to comply with gold or any other trade”.
Questions have been raised, in particular, about Jagmohan’s gold operations after the Royal Canadian Mint stopped taking its metal, as questions were raised about the possibility it was contaminated with smuggled Venezuelan ore. .
In February this year, Jagmohan wrote to Benn and copied the letter to the Guyanese police asking that his business be investigated and that upon completion he be given a clean bill of health.
“Dear Minister, as you know, I am a licensed Gold Trader and Exporter operating in this capacity for over two decades. I am proud to have worked professionally during this time and to have contributed significantly Guyana’s economy by paying billions in royalties and taxes into the consolidated fund every year. The gold export business is very competitive and I have been singled out for systematic defamation by unknown persons,” says the letter to Benn.
“Due to the sensitive nature of my business which involved the movement of gold or silver, I am concerned that these malicious attacks could have a detrimental effect on my business and the economy of Guyana. With this in mind, I would appreciate if the state and its outside agencies and authorities could undertake a thorough review of me and my business so that I can receive a “clean bill of health”. This will greatly assist me in officially clearing any malice directed against me “, he continued.
When Acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken was contacted on Friday, he told the Sunday Stabroek that police clearances were issued by the GPF’s Criminal Investigations Department.
Hicken said if Jagmohan had made his request to the minister, then the minister would be the best person to ask for the status. For his part, Hicken said, “I don’t know about that…I’m not investigating anything or anyone.”
Efforts to contact Benn were futile as several calls to his cell phone number went unanswered.
Jagmohan believes the letter to Benn was leaked and said it was not the first time he had written for similar clearance, as it had been common practice over the years.
“The letter is genuine but it has been leaked…we would do this to get a clean bill of health to clear me up,” he said.
“We were specific in what we wanted. Every two years we wrote, in accordance with international compliance. We chose to do this to add to our profile,” he added.
There has been no public report of any such prior request to authorities by Jagmohan.
He told Sunday’s Stabroek that being successful in his business, “there are a lot of haters” and some jealous competitors spitting defamatory and derogatory things at him and his establishment.
The police investigation and report, he said, would give the public a transparent overview of its operations and let the business community and potential companies know that its operations are above the board.
The request to Benn and the police would seem even more inappropriate as Jagmohan and his brother donated vehicles to the police force last month – just weeks after asking the survey for permission.
Jagmohan says donating the vehicles should in no way be seen as a hardship on law enforcement, as the recipients are Essequibo police and investigation and clearance would be directed from Georgetown.
“Being a member of the private sector and my brother as well, we thought it best to take advantage of access and assistance on preferential terms. We had attended a meeting where it was pointed out that there was a lot of crime in Essequibo and that the police needed vehicles. We are also from Essequibo so we have answered the call to help the area,” he noted.
“It was unique to the region to help in its fight against crime. Region 2 police have nothing to do with customs clearance…” he added.
Last month, ten new vehicles were handed over to the police by Jagmohan and his brother, Suresh Jagmohan.
Afterwards, the Minister of the Interior and the Acting Commissioner of Police were present and thanked the businessmen for their donation.
“We need to respond to domestic violence, assault, theft… we need to respond to these issues with alacrity… we shouldn’t have a problem now that we have 10 or more new vehicles and I think the (police) commissioner talks about raising a few more vans to go to difficult areas… so we can’t call the police stations and hear that there are no vehicles or the vehicle has no gas”, Benn warned.
The government and police force have been criticized in the past for accepting donations from the private sector that could give the appearance of favor-seeking.
Mineral Claims Platform
Last year, Stabroek News reported that the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) had investigated allegations made to the International Minerals Grievance Platform (MGP) that the local large-scale gold trader is linked to illegally sourced Venezuelan gold, a claim by Jagmohan’s El Dorado Trading vehemently denied.
Following the allegation, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) told the Gold Board that it has suspended the supply of El Dorado gold from the GGB until further notice.
El Dorado dismissed the allegations, which were filed with the MGP, saying there is not “an iota or shred of truth in the claims” and that the investigations will not only substantiate it, but show how it’s easy not only for a company’s name to be tarnished, but the entire industry of a country is afraid of being blacklisted because of “haters or fear of competition”.
El Dorado Trading is a client of the Guyana Gold Board while the GGB is a client of RCM. As such, Mint complaints should be registered with the Gold Board here.
It was noted that El Dorado Trading is the only local company that sells gold to the Gold Board which is then supplied to the Royal Canadian Mint.
Jagmoghan had told this newspaper that he was not worried and anyone could file a complaint, but when such action is taken, not only does it put a business establishment in a negative spotlight, but the country could be impacted.
He said he hoped that when the investigation is complete and his company’s name is cleared, a lesson will be learned by the person or people who filed the grievance about the implications it might have.
There has been no word on the outcome of this investigation.
Citing the sensitivity of the issue as well as a confidentiality clause that governs executive meetings, the Governor of the Bank of Guyana and current Chairman of the Guyana Gold Board, Dr Gobind Ganga had in May last year refused to comment on the allegations made by former GGB President GHK. Lall that he [Ganga] had in 2019 said there was evidence of gold smuggling from Venezuela that could have led to that country being blacklisted.
However, Ganga said Lall’s claims don’t paint a true picture of the issues at the time, but he doesn’t want to be “caught up” in a back and forth with the former president.
He was asked about a Royal Canadian Mint investigation that a supplier here was selling contraband gold from Venezuela. He said the supplier in question, Jagmohan, had not sold gold to the Gold Board since that time.
“Since then the Gold Board has not bought any gold from Mr. Jagmohan… I think it was September until now, no gold from him,” he said.
When asked if the issue with Jagmohan had been resolved, he replied, “I think the issue was not just that, but other issues.”
However, this newspaper understands that Guyana no longer sells to RCM and instead supplies other brokers.
The local Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had recommended in 2019 that a high-level team be created to conduct a full review of the gold trade, amid fears that Venezuelan gold could seep into the local market in 2019 and cause the Guyanese dollar to fall. depreciate.
Current and former attorneys general Anil Nandlall and Basil Williams said last year they were unaware of the FIU’s recommendation for a high-level investigation into the gold trade. There has since been no word of an investigation into the trade.
An official from the regulatory agency told this newspaper that “issues like gold smuggling are serious allegations for the image of a country” and that they were not aware of “any cases legitimate here in Guyana”.