US Sanctions Guyana’s Mohamed Family, $50M Gold Tax Evasion Alleged

US Sanctions Guyanese Mohamed Family for Evading $50M in Gold Duty Taxes and Bribing Officials

By Jack Wilson

6/11, 12:53 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • The US Treasury sanctioned Nazar Mohamed, Azruddin Mohamed, and their company Mohamed’s Enterprise for alleged public corruption in Guyana.
  • Accusations include evading taxes on gold exports and bribing customs officials to facilitate illicit shipments.
  • Guyanese official Mae Thomas was also sanctioned for allegedly misusing her position to benefit Mohamed’s Enterprise.

US Treasury Sanctions Guyanese Businessmen

The US Treasury Department has sanctioned Nazar Mohamed, his son Azruddin Mohamed, and their company, Mohamed’s Enterprise, for their alleged involvement in public corruption in Guyana. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused Mohamed’s Enterprise of evading taxes on gold exports and defrauding the Guyanese government by underreporting gold exports. The company allegedly bribed customs officials to falsify documents and facilitate illicit gold shipments. Nazar Mohamed declined to comment on the accusations.

Gold is a significant export for Guyana, but the industry is fragmented, with small-scale mining operations dominating production. Mohamed’s Enterprise, one of the largest gold exporters in Guyana, is accused of omitting over 10,000 kilograms of gold from import and export declarations between 2019 and 2023, avoiding more than $50 million in duty taxes. The company also allegedly paid bribes to ensure the smooth movement of currency and other items.

Government Official Implicated

Mae Thomas, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, was also sanctioned. OFAC stated that Thomas misused her position to influence the award of official contract bids and the approval processes for weapons permits and passports on behalf of Mohamed’s Enterprise. Thomas was previously the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs and was shifted to the Ministry of Labour after her visa was revoked by US authorities in April 2023.

Thomas allegedly provided inside information to Mohamed’s Enterprise to manipulate procurement processes and ensure favorable treatment in criminal or civil matters. In return, she received cash payments and high-value gifts. The US Treasury’s actions against Thomas highlight the extent of corruption within Guyana’s government and its impact on the country’s institutions.

Broader Implications and Sanctions

In addition to Mohamed’s Enterprise, OFAC designated two other entities, Hadi’s World and Team Mohamed’s Racing Team, for being owned or controlled by Mohamed’s Enterprise and Azruddin Mohamed, respectively. The sanctions are part of Executive Order 13818, which builds upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, targeting perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption worldwide.

Brian E. Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, stated, “Today’s action underscores our commitment to holding accountable those who seek to exploit Guyana’s underdeveloped gold sector for personal gain.” The sanctions aim to safeguard the US financial system from abuse by corrupt actors and promote accountability for corrupt acts globally.

As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked. Financial institutions and other entities engaging in transactions with the sanctioned individuals and entities may also face sanctions or enforcement actions.