Internal auditor resigns from gold board

 

The Internal Auditor of the Guyana Gold Board Ajodhia Ramcharan on Wednesday resigned following an investigation into allegations of “millions of dollars” in theft at the agency which has already seen two accountants sent home to facilitate the probe.

“I can confirm that he has resigned effective yesterday, 15th of November,” Chairman of the Gold Board Gabriel Lall told Stabroek News when contacted.

Asked what was the reason for Ramcharan’s resignation and if it was linked to the recent allegations of fraud at the agency, Lall said it had to do with his own lack of confidence in Ramcharan.

“It is not related directly to the fraud but he felt that he needed to move on because for one, I did not have confidence in what he brought to the Gold Board,” he stated.

Last week, two accountants at the agency were sent home sent to facilitate an internal investigation after a manipulation of its testing of gold was unearthed.

Following the announcement of the investigation, the Board sought to assure miners that they didn’t incur losses from the suspected manipulation of loopholes in the agency’s financial systems.

As has happened in the past at various Gold Board offices, miners would have expressed concerns that the purity of gold which they submitted for testing would have been understated, resulting in them being cheated.

“The Guyana Gold Board and senior management take the opportunity to reassure miners that their assay accounts have not been compromised,” a statement from the Board had said.

“So far, it is financial irregularities, which can cover a whole spectrum of things… people certainly bypassing policies to arrive at this stage,” Lall had later told a press conference, as he reiterated that there was no “shaving of gold” and “despite our numerous discoveries, no miner’s assay is compromised.”

It was explained that the Guyana Gold Board does not issue miners with a certificate on the purity of the gold they sell to the agency but conducts an assay that is not 100 percent accurate. Sellers know this and would bring their gold with their own purity percentages. The Gold Board checks independently to verify and if the assay proves that it is higher or lower than the declared purity, it would have to either pay the difference or be given a refund on the extra.

The amount in cash totals millions of dollars but some miners never see their refund or are told to pay extra because there is no certifying system at the agency.

“It questions the integrity of the system because miners receive a certificate to say the percentage of the gold when it is fire assay tested. So the accounts staff can tell the people it is 92 percent and it was 94 percent and take that difference. Significantly, they can tell miners the purity was lower and make them pay back and take the difference,” a Gold Board employee had explained.

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