The British High Commissioner on Thursday afternoon tried to downplay a report carried by News Source about the sale of a British Government property in Guyana.
High Commissioner Andrew Ayre in an interview at the British High Commission on Main Street, Georgetown said the reason the sale of the Bel Air property was stopped was because the High Commission was in the process of setting up a trade and investment office and may have needed the property to house the new trade and investment officer.
He said that a Guyanese was hired for the job and as such the property was no longer needed to house the official since they already have a house in Guyana. However, he told News Source that the property is expected to hit the auction block again this year.
News Source reported that there were concerns about the buyer and how he may have acquired the large sum of money he was offering for the property. News Source stands by that story.
When asked specifically about whether the High Commission or the British Government had concerns about the businessman who won the bid for the property and where he may have gotten his money from, High Commissioner Ayre would only say that the issue had to do with the house being made available to whoever was to be hired to serve in the trade and investment office, saying that was the reason for the sale to the businessman being stopped.
The High Commissioner pointed out however, that a $110 Million bid was indeed made for the property and it was the highest bid. He said there were a number of bids over the $100 Million mark but the person who made the $110 million bid was the highest bidder.
High Commissioner Ayre said a small deposit was made by the prospective buyer for the property but that deposit was returned to the businessman. News Source asked the High Commissioner specifically if he sought local help to ascertain the buyer’s income. He said he could not say whether local authorities were contacted and told News Source that we should direct that question to the relevant Guyanese authorities.
The High Commissioner said the United Kingdom has strict laws regarding money laundering and would investigate instances where large sums of money are being spent.
The British Diplomat said unequivocally that “Guyana has an issue with money laundering”. Mr. Ayre stated “the British Government is not in the business of laundering money, if we have concerns we would investigate those concerns”. He added that when it comes to Guyana, “there are always concerns in a country where money laundering is quite high.”
“I’ll be naive to assume that every financial transaction is above-board but it is a global issue as well”, he told News Source.