“I will not be compromised” – Pres. Ali on sanctioned businessmen 

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Guyana’s President, Irfaan Ali, is adamant that he will not be compromised in wake of sanctions levelled against two local businessmen by the U.S. Treasury Department just days ago. 

“I will not be compromised, not me,” Ali affirmed during a June 20 press briefing. 

Father and son, Nazar and Azruddin Mohamed, were sanctioned for what U.S. authorities say is their involvement in public corruption, including defrauding the Guyana government of more than US$50 million in duty taxes. Mae Thomas, a former Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Ali administration, was also sanctioned with the duo, for being the recipient of bribes to facilitate awards of government contracts.

Ali was at the time responding to a question about his use of a vehicle provided by the Mohameds. He clarified that this was prior to him being sworn in as Guyana’s head of state. 

“The vehicle that I used was during the election campaign. I was advised that I needed a safe vehicle because of the distance I was traversing and in their assessment, the threat I was exposed to. I did not hide it. I did not drive in a tunnel. I did not use that vehicle after assuming office. The day I was sworn in, I was dropped home and the vehicle provided by the Office of the President was used from the next day,” the President said. “I want to say to you as the President of this country, I commit myself to the rule of law. I am not compromised.” 

The government has been working to ensure that its local financial institutions are not exposed to potential sanctions because of connections to the Mohameds. Their cambio license was quickly revoked and other revocations are expected in the coming weeks including that to export gold. 

The Mohameds had rejected allegations of money laundering, drug trafficking, and gold smuggling made in a July 14 Reuters report. However, following the allegations, the Mohameds pulled out of the Vreed-en-Hoop Shore Base Inc. (VEHSI) project being executed by NRG Holdings and Jan De Nul. VEHSI developed a facility that will serve ExxonMobil’s Yellowtail project, expected to achieve first oil in 2025. 

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