US Slaps Sanctions On Three Guyanese, Including Government Official

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, New York, NY, Tues. June 11, 2024: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has slapped sanctions on three Guyanese, including a government official.

OFAC has imposed sanctions on Thomas Nazar Mohamed, his son, Azruddin Mohamed, and their company, along with designating two other entities, Hadi’s World and Team Mohamed’s Racing Team, which are owned or controlled by Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin, respectively as well as on Mae Thomas, the Permanent Secretary of the Guyana Ministry of Labour.

The Guyana government announced on Tuesday that it has placed Thomas on immediate leave following her inclusion in a list of sanctioned individuals by OFAC.

According to OFAC, these sanctions fall under Executive Order 13818, which implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act targeting perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption worldwide.

“Today’s action underscores our commitment to holding accountable those who seek to exploit Guyana’s underdeveloped gold sector for personal gain,” stated Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. He added that the Treasury, in collaboration with U.S. law enforcement, will continue efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from corrupt actors.

The U.S. authorities highlighted that gold is one of Guyana’s main exports but described the industry as highly fragmented, with small-scale mining operations dominating gold production. These small businesses often have informal relationships with larger traders like Mohamed’s Enterprise, leading to international gold sales across markets in the U.S., Canada, UAE, and the EU.

Nazar Mohamed established Mohamed’s Enterprise in Guyana, later expanding to the U.S. and transitioning into gold trading, making it one of Guyana’s largest gold exporters. Azruddin Mohamed eventually took over the enterprise, which now also operates as “Confidential Cambio.”

From 2019 to 2023, Mohamed’s Enterprise allegedly underreported over 10,000 kilograms of gold in import and export declarations, avoiding more than US$50 million in duty taxes to the Guyanese government. OFAC stated that Thomas, as Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Home Affairs, misused her position to benefit Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin in exchange for cash payments and high-value gifts, influencing contract bids and approval processes for weapons permits and passports.

The Guyana government acknowledged the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s information regarding the three Guyanese nationals. It stated that the Ministry of Finance and relevant statutory agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority, will request further details to support local law enforcement agencies.

“The Government of Guyana takes very seriously the claims contained in the press release and will continue to engage relevant United States entities on these matters. In the meantime, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Ms. Mae Thomas, has been sent on leave with immediate effect,” the statement read.

President Irfaan Ali’s administration emphasized its commitment to working with the U.S. government on mutual interests, including upholding the rule of law and order.

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