Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter written by a concerned miner titled, ‘Gold Board killing the golden goose’ (KN, April 14). I was wondering when such a development would occur, and knew that it inevitably had to, given the determination of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) to fulfil its obligations and serve this nation responsibly.  I am surprised at myself for responding to an anonymous presence, but I must.

First, whoever “A concerned miner” is, or is a front for, there was very deliberate avoidance and pretended ignorance on the role of minerals, in this instance gold, functioning as fuel for corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing; and as those relate very sharply to this country.  This is found to be conveniently self-serving and not-so-skilfully selective.  And therein is the crux of the conflict-free mandate demanded of this country’s compliance regime from mine-to-market, and which has been made abundantly and repeatedly clear. It has been made clear to every participant within the mining sector on every occasion and at every forum.  That seems to be of no import to those who insist, nay demand, business as usual.  In this the GGB has no choice; or to repeat: no wriggle room.  If the Gold Board continues to operate as it did for many a year, then it would not be killing the golden goose; it would be killing the entire country.

It is beside the point whether all of this is clear enough or not, or found acceptable or not.  But this much is pertinent and of incalculable significance to this nation: the 2017 State Department report on major money laundering countries in the region, identified and included this country, and named minerals repeatedly as one of the contributory factors to Guyana’s unwanted designation.  That would be, in the main, gold.

Now as a backdrop to, and in conjunction with, the international emphases and concerns of a number of pivotal bodies (LBMA, OECD, SEC, and the EU, among still others) have provided both guidance and non-negotiable standards on what must prevail here.  Pursuant to local visits, inspections, and arm’s length discussions at multiple levels (including political and diplomatic ones), the GGB moved to implement due diligence procedures and practices that this “concerned miner” now nonchalantly and dismissively terms “unnecessary documentation.”  Whether individual or group, that luxury (“unnecessary”) is theirs and can be so arrogated; unfortunately the GGB does not have such latitude.

Editor, I must now ask, in view of modern commercial practices, when do such basics as: 1) National Identification document; 2) Proof of Address; 3) Tax Identification Number; and 4) supporting mining paperwork, such as permits, licenses, authorizations, and the like, rise to the level of “unnecessary documentation” and incur such disturbance and resistance?  I go further and question not only when but why?  I leave that to the commonsense deliberations of all thoughtful citizens.

In addition, the writer went on to share that, “This, in turn, has caused dealers to turn away miners, as they say it’s the Gold Board requirements, for compliance all of which we have been using for years and no issue.”  It is interesting that this assertion is attributed to dealers.  I recall a top dealer, an honourable religious man, sitting across from me and saying before others that matters have developed “from no regulation to over regulation.”  I repeat his very words: “from no regulation.”  I submit that this powerfully contradicts the representations of “a concerned miner.”  In terms of “over-regulation” I humbly disagree; but as said earlier, the GGB has neither the latitude nor luxury to operate otherwise.

Further, it is baffling that billion dollar businesses in the gold sector have serious issues and anxieties in producing what can only be described as routine documents that are fundamental to standard operations, and of which they themselves should highly desire and insist upon having as part of sound and comprehensive business dealings.  I would have thought that such would be self-protecting.

Even further, all Guyanese, and none more so than the participants in this crucial sector, which contributes so heavily to the nation’s economy, should be cognizant of the 4th Round of CFATF due diligence activities upcoming in the course of this year.  It is expected to incorporate deep-diving and drilling down in the mother of all comprehensive compliance efforts.  It could be immeasurably devastating if this country’s major economic plank is found lacking in terms of compliance.  It would be utterly regrettable, if Guyana is found wanting because of resistance to, and the absence of, absolutely necessary and vital documentation.  What has been discussed, documented, and transmitted to Guyana is stark and unyielding: no documents, no dealings; and zero exceptions.  The interests and priorities of the Minister, the Board of Directors, and management of the GGB are to fulfil all related obligations.  I readily appreciate that change is seldom welcomed, and usually ferociously resented, even when for the better.  But the GGB has a responsibility to the sector and to this nation.

Last, the writer pronounced more than once on my infatuation with power.  I now proceed to furnish one and all with irrefutable evidence of such power pursuits and power trips.  My written resignation (no questions asked, no reasons needed) is always on the desk of the Minister, the Cabinet, and the President.  In the future, I will not be responding to any anonymous party.

Yours faithfully,
GHK Lall

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