Former Guyana Gold Board accountant on six fraud charges over gold testing

Rosanna Ramnarine

A former accountant of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) was yesterday read a total of six fraud charges, subsequent to a 2017 investigation into allegations of “millions of dollars” in theft through the manipulation of the gold testing system.

Charged was 35-year-old Rosanna Ramnarine, of Lot 46 Nandy Park, East Bank Demerara.

The six charges were read to the accused by Magistrate Fabayo Azore.

The first charge read to Ramnarine stated that between February 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017, at the GGB, located at Lot 68 Brickdam, Georgetown, being employed as a clerk or servant, she willfully and with the intent to defraud, falsified a document in possession of the GGB, that is to say, payment invoice #80782, purporting to show that Edward Hopkinson, received a payment of $336, 207, on March 21, 2017.

Between April 30, 2017 and June 30, 2017, at the GGB, being employed as a clerk or a servant, she willfully and with the intent to defraud, falsified a document in possession of the GGB, that is to say, payment invoice #81475, purporting to show that Ryan Chase, received a payment of $288,583 on May 30, 2017.

The third charge stated that the accused, between April 30, 2017 and June 30, 2017, being employed as a clerk or servant at the GGB, stole $288,583 in monies in the possession and power of the GGB, her employer.

It was further alleged that between February 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017, Ramnarine stole $336, 207 in monies in the possession and power of the GGB, her employer.

The fifth charge alleged that Ramnarine, with intent to defraud the GGB, conspired with person or persons unknown to forge GGB payment invoice #80782, dated March 21, 2017, between February 1, 2017 and April 30, 2017.

Finally, it is alleged that the accused, between April 30, 2017 and June 30, 2017, with intent to defraud the GGB, conspired with person or persons unknown to forge GGB payment invoice #81475, dated May, 30, 2017.

After each charge was read to the accused, she entered a plea of not guilty.

Attorney Jed Vasconcellos, who represented the accused in association with attorney Nigel Hughes, requested reasonable bail for his client. He told the court that an investigation had commenced in November 2017, and that the accused has been cooperating with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

The prosecutor made no objection to bail being granted but requested that conditions be applied. It was noted that the files relating to the matters are complete.

Subsequently, Magistrate Azore granted the accused a total of $300,000 bail, $50,000 on each charge. She was also ordered to lodge her passport and to report to SOCU every Friday, until the completion of the matters.

The matter is expected to be called again on July 23, when statements are expected to be served.

In November, 2017, Chairman of the Gold Board, GHK Lall, explained that the GGB does not issue miners with a certificate of the purity of the gold they sell to the agency, but conducts an assay which is not 100 percent accurate. Sellers are aware of this and bring their gold with their own percentage purity. The Gold Board checks independently to verify the purity and if the assay proves that it is higher or lower than that stated, the miners receive an additional payment from the Gold Board in the case of the former instance, or in the latter, the miners would have to refund the Gold Board.

The amount totals millions of dollars, but some miners never saw their additional payments or were told to refund the Gold Board since 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,” he noted.

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