US Probes Exxon Contractors In Guyana For Drug Trafficking And Gold Smuggling

Several U.S. agencies are investigating two businessmen from Guyana –contractors for ExxonMobil to build a shore base for the supermajor’s oil operations offshore – on suspicions of drug trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal activities, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting intelligence reports and sources familiar with the matter.

us probes exxon contractors in guyana for drug trafficking and gold smuggling

Exxon, leading a consortium with U.S. Hess Corporation, is currently producing all the crude oil in Guyana—the world’s newest oil-producing nation, before the South American country announces winners in its first-ever offshore licensing round expected later this year.

Exxon announced a contract with Guyanese businessmen Nazar Mohamed and Azruddin Mohamed, a father and a son, in 2022.

us probes exxon contractors in guyana for drug trafficking and gold smuggling

The supermajor has been repeatedly warned by U.S. government officials to stay away from doing business with the two individuals, according to Reuters.

The father and son Mohamed are under investigation by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Department of Homeland Security, among other U.S. agencies.

They are suspected of smuggling cocaine from Colombia, laundering money for drug traffickers and other criminals, and laundering money for sanctioned Russian individuals operating in South America, according to the intelligence reports Reuters has seen and to the sources its reporters have talked to.

The Guyanese businessmen are also suspected of smuggling illegally mined gold from Venezuela to the U.S., the Middle East, and Europe.

U.S. officials are considering slapping sanctions on the Mohameds, according to some of Reuters’ sources, which would mean Exxon will have to exit any business relationships and partnerships with sanctioned individuals.

Asked by Reuters to comment on the report, Exxon only said in a brief statement, “We comply with all applicable laws where we operate and conduct our business.”

Nazar Mohamed said this week in a statement to Reuters, speaking for himself, his son and their businesses, that they had committed no crimes and were not aware of any U.S. investigation into their activities or any discussion of U.S. sanctions against them.

“The accusations you mention,” the statement said, “are false and defamatory.”

Exxon produces around 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil offshore Guyana in a consortium with U.S. partner Hess Corporation. The Exxon-Hess partnership has discovered more than 11 billion barrels of oil offshore Guyana and has ambitious plans to boost production. Hess CEO John Hess has said that Guyana is on track to be pumping 1.2 million bpd by 2027 from six FPSOs from resources discovered and under development in the prolific Stabroek Block, where Exxon and Hess have made more than 20 oil discoveries.

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via July 17th 2023