As the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) continues to investigate the non-payment of millions of dollars in duty owed to the entity by Chinese logging company BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc, the revenue collection body may consider settling the matter outside the realm of the judiciary.
On Tuesday, officials from the GRA’s Customs Department seized a Lexus SUV with registration number PRR 2888 and a Nissan minivan with licence plate number PRR 3888; both belonging to the controversial Chinese company. Guyana Times was told that the Chinese logging company allegedly has over $50 million outstanding in duties, which they failed to pay within the stipulated timeframe.
This newspaper contacted GRA Chairman Rawle Lucas on Wednesday who related that he was still awaiting a report from the team that conducted the operation. “I have not received that report as yet. All I got from them was an email indicating that they were still preparing the report and as soon as the report is ready, it would be sent to me,” Lucas said.
Asked whether the Revenue Authority will be filing criminal charges against the foreign company or would move to settle the matter, the Chairman explained that at this point, the course of action is yet to be determined. However, he noted that the latter option might be more feasible since Government wants to maintain its relationship with investors but at the same time ensure that they operate within the confines of the laws of Guyana.
“Remember what we are trying to do is to make sure that we can try our best to maintain a reasonable relationship that we expect between the Government and the investors; so one should, therefore, expect prudent actions to be taken in order to deal with the matter,” he pointed out.
The Chairman could not say, when asked, whether there were any efforts by BaiShanLin to engage the GRA in having the matter settled as he is yet to receive the report. “I’m not sure what would have transpired in the operation and what communication would have been indicated by the company,” Lucas stated.
In 2014, when the GRA seized two Lexus luxury vehicles and filed charges against remigrant couple Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan, along with Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall and his wife Bhena Lall, for allegedly defrauding the Revenue Authority of more than $100 million of customs duties on the two vehicles imported under Government’s Remigrant Scheme Programme, the parties later arrived at “amicable resolutions” outside of court and had the cases dismissed.
Guyana Times understands that BaiShanLin has been under the radar of the revenue collection body for years. It was reported that the GRA has been trying to recoup the monies owed by the company for some time now; however, recent efforts by the Authority to confiscate the vehicles were blocked by a Government official.