The High Court on November 1, 2021, dismissed an application for a variation of a Production Order filed by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and ruled in favour of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), directing the Commissioner-General of GRA, Godfrey Statia to comply with the Production Order granted by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wilshire, SC on August 12, 2021, within 14 days.
The Production Order was granted pursuant to Section 24 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11, seeking the production of documents in the possession of the GRA’s Commissioner-General or a duly authorised officer/agent of the tax body established pursuant to Section 9 of the Revenue Act, Cap. 79:04.
Pursuant to the court order, SOCU had been asking GRA for the documents, which are part of investigations into money laundering involving in excess of $103, 000,000. However, the Revenue Authority had refused to produce the documents on the ground that it is obligated to safeguard the returns declaration and other taxpayer information in accordance with Section 23 of the Revenue Act.
The Chief Justice, in her ruling, emphasised that Sections 111 and 112 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11 is clear as it supersedes Section 23 of the Revenue Act Cap and protects the GRA from liability where documents/information are produced to SOCU.
The High Court further ordered costs against the GRA in the sum of $75, 000.
The High Court