A probe into the multi-million dollar gold heist in Curacao appears to be winding down here as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is now completing its report, which is expected to indicate that the stolen gold originated here.
Sources close to the GGMC say it will shortly submit its report to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Efforts to contact Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud for comment yesterday proved futile, while GGMC head Rickford Vieira declined to speak on the matter when he was contacted.
The GGMC had dispatched teams to Curacao and neighbouring Suriname in the hope of tracing the origin of the gold. The Natural Resources Ministry has stated that from all available information, the gold bars were not from Guyana. However, despite the size of the loss—estimated at some US$11.5 million or $2.3B—no one has come forward to claim the gold.
However Stabroek News was told that from preliminary reports from the team that visited Curacao, it seems that the documents which were shown to the Curacao police for clearance were not authentic. The team, after speaking to the crew and other persons on that island, believes that the gold originated from Guyana and has ruled out Suriname.
In the early days of the investigation, there were suggestions that the gold may have originated in Suriname but from the heist on November 30 to the present time, there has been no statement or interest by Paramaribo in the shipment. Neither have local operators there claimed the gold.
A Surinamese police source informed that there are no investigations from that country because they do not believe the gold originated there. “We do not believe the gold came from this country because no one has made an official complaint to police. It is very funny that people would say so because our people do not have to smuggle gold anywhere in the world because it is not expensive… our government has not said anything on this matter either because they too know that [it is] not [from] Suriname,” the source said.
The crew of the vessel, ‘Summer Bliss,’ has not departed Curacao. When questioned why, Curacao Police Spokesperson Reggie Huggins told Stabroek News that the crewmembers were not being held by the police and he did not know why they have not yet left the island. The police there would not release the names of the crewmembers, since they stated that the investigation was a sensitive one. However, a crew member who gave his name as Raymond Emmanuel reportedly told the Associated Press (AP) that the crew left Guyana on November 26, bound for Curacao.
According to AP, Huggins did not say who owned the gold but he said it was a legal shipment that was being transshipped via Curacao and that officials on the Dutch-administered island had been told in advance that it was coming as part of normal security protocols. He declined to reveal the eventual destination of the shipment.