Guyanese diplomat denies involvement in US visa issue with politician

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States, Samuel Hinds, has denied any involvement in hiring an American lobbying firm to assist a prominent businessman and political aspirant, Nazar ‘Shell’ Mohamed, in securing a United states visa.

“I wish to categorically state that at no time did I contact or had any discussion with the BGR Group pertaining to Mr Mohamed’s visa issues,” Hinds, a former prime minister, said in a statement.

Mohammed, who was recently announced as a candidate for the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the June 12 Local Government Elections, has sought the assistance of the US lobby firm to ascertain why Washington has refused to grant him and members of his family visas to enter the North American country.

He is a well known businessman who operates and owns several multi-million dollar businesses in various sectors, ranging from gold production and export to quarry operations and construction. Media reports say he is considered one of the richest men in Guyana.

Mohammed, who previously held a US visa, has not been issued a new one in the past ten years.

Managing Director of the US-based BGR Group, Tom Locke, said his company had been contacted by the Guyanese diplomat to assist Mohamed.

However, when Locke, a former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent, was asked whether he was referring to Hinds, could not answer the question directly.

The BGR Group said it has submitted a report to the US State Department and the American Embassy here, hoping to demonstrate the weakness of allegations of drug trafficking, gun-running, gold smuggling and homicide against the businessman.

Locke maintained that his client was innocent of the allegations, and said the alleged smuggling of gold to Curacao and possible financing of the Lebanese political militant group, Hezbollah, have been addressed in the larger report that has been submitted to the US government.

Locke, is currently in Guyana, and told the online publication, News Source that Mohamed wants his name cleared of the various allegations that have been levelled against him over the years, ranging from accusations of being involved in money laundering to gold smuggling.

He said Mohamed’s immigration attorney has also dispatched several documents following the investigations, to the US State Department in Washington.

“I took this on to give the State Department some additional information, because what they did, is that they did not turn him down for a visa, but what they did is put it in administrative processing, which means is that they need more information or they want somebody else to take a look at it in DC and see if it is okay”, Locke said.

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