Last Updated on Friday, 14 October 2022, 21:59 by Denis Chabrol
The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force is investigating allegations that a former Venezuelan military helicopter might have been brought into the country under shady circumstances, the Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Jared Shadick said Friday.
“There is an allegation that the aircraft was irregularly brought into the country,” he told Demerara Waves Online News but declined to delve into details, saying that the aviation regulator was “trying its best” to facilitate the probe.
He said the matter concerning that chopper was brought to his attention last week.
Sources said the aircraft, an Augusta 139 helicopter, was shipped to Guyana by sea, assembled and registered by the GCAA with marking
8R-HMA. It was reportedly parked at the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Air Corps for at least five years before it was taken to Roraima Airways’ for storage.
Mr Shadick said the chopper was given a local registration in 2019 and is owned by the mining company. There is no allegation so far that that company was knowingly involved in a bad deal. The GCAA Chairman said the helicopter was owned by the Venezuelan military but he could not say whether it was up to the time it arrived in Guyana. “That is where the grey waters are so there is where the investigation really lies,” he said.
He said the probe was also seeking to ascertain whether the GCAA had conducted its due diligence, including whether that aircraft was stolen in Venezuela.
Captain Gerry Gouveia Snr; who is Guyana’s National Security Adviser, said he was aware that the chopper was on the ramp at his Ogle location but he referred all questions to Captain Gerry Gouveia Snr who is responsible for the company now. Mr Gouveia Snr said the helicopter arrived in Guyana about four or five years ago, was at the GDF location at Timehri after which a request was made to take it to Ogle to park. “Other than that, I don’t have any idea what’s going on with it; it’s just parked there,” he said. Mr Gouveia Jnr. said the aircraft has been parked at Roraima’s ramp Ogle, East Coast Demerara for about one year without any financial reward. “As far as my involvement, it was just asked to be parked here. It was never charged for parking, we never had any operation and I have nothing to do with this helicopter” he said. He said he told SOCU agents that he was not involved with the helicopter and has no commercial arrangement with it.
It is unclear whether a Venezuelan citizen has leased the helicopter to the gold miner, but officials said that aircraft is not being flown because Guyana does not have type-rated pilots and maintenance personnel for that aircraft.
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