Ministry still awaiting word from Curacao on gold heist – Persaud

Guyana is depending heavily on documentation from Curacao to determine its interest in last November’s gold heist on the island, but so far no information has been forthcoming.

“Our team that went to Curacao, they met with the different agencies. We have requested a number of documents and we are still awaiting those documents… At this point and time, we have put the request in, and we are awaiting … we requested as much documentation to see whether or not, on Guyana’s part, if there was anything of interest that we should pursue and we have not gotten anything,” Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday.

Robert Persaud
Robert Persaud

Six persons, one from Bonaire, two from Venezuela and the others from Curacao, remain in the custody of Curacao police for the daring US$11.5M heist of gold bars. Several Dutch news websites have also reported that 30 bars were recovered in the US but police in Curacao have declined to confirm whether this was indeed the case.

“We are starting from the assumption that there is something to work through. We first have to get the documentation to establish that and that is what we want to establish, and that was what the team was there to pursue. ‘Show me all the paperwork you have and let us see whether or not there is something that concerns Guyana and what we need to do.’ And that is what we want to ascertain,” Persaud continued.

He informed that although personnel under the Ministry of Natural Resources went to conduct an investigation on the island, it was clearly from a gold trading standpoint to establish if there were regulatory breaches.

He said that before the team’s departure diplomatic protocol was established and the okay to access to agencies given. As a result, as many agencies as possible, during the time the team was there, were visited. “This was arranged through the Ministry of foreign Affairs. We had to go through diplomatic channels and all the relevant agencies (police customs etc). Our team met with those,” he said.

“I am more interested in the gold trading aspect to see whether or not, from the Guyana Gold Board or whether anything that affects the trading of gold, that there is some aspect of interest and that is what we are pursuing,” he also said.

Questioned on the current status of the crew of the vessel and if the team sought an audience with the crew members, Persaud posited that questioning the men would fall under the portfolio of the police and that his team’s duties were limited to gold and gold trading.

Stabroek News understands that the crew of the vessel has still not departed Curacao. When questioned why, Curacao police spokesman Ronald Huggins had told this newspaper 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, was reported by the Associated Press as saying that the crew left Guyana on November 26, bound for Curacao. Observers note that the crew would be able to give chapter and verse on the provenance of the gold and it is they that the Guyana Government should formally be seeking access to for conclusive information.

“The police will have to tell you, the immigration authorities will have to tell you whether the crew is back in Guyana … Our team is not a police team our team, there was more of a fact finding and to interact and see what is there that concerns the issues of gold trade,” he said.

“This (questioning the crew) is a matter of law enforcement and the ministry is not a law enforcement agency. We are more interested from the trading standpoint and the other aspect, the law enforcement agencies I am sure, they have their collaboration and interaction, they will have to address that,” he added.

Persaud added that his ministry awaits the delivery of the documents in “goodwill and trust” of the Curacao government.

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