Suspected fuel smugglingOn the heels of a dramatic Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) operation that netted a ship suspected of smuggling fuel, it has emerged that persons ranging from senior Government functionaries to sport officials may have links to the vessel.According to reports in sections of the media, the vessel called the Jubilee purchased fuel from neighbouring Trinidad with Suriname as its destination port. After the deal fell through, however, the vessel reportedly docked in port Georgetown last week Friday.Reports indicate that GEA agents boarded the vessel, which was carrying over 500,000 litres of gas and sealed the tanks and pumps after the crew was unable to provide the requisite documentations. It is understood that the matter is before the GEA and the Guyana Revenue Authority. Attempts by Guyana Times to seek an update on the matter on Friday were futile.But according to information reaching this publication, a senior Government official and a local sport heavyweight have direct links to the vessel, which is owned by a company incorporated in Guyana under the Companies Act in 2016.This publication has been informed that these individuals have been shareholders of the company since 2017. One of the aforementioned company shareholders is in fact the designated secretary of the company.Last year, the GEA’s Fuel Marking Division (FMD) reportedly was able to seize over 11,000 gallons of illegal fuel for 2017 as part of its fight against fuel smuggling.The GEA usually dispatches teams of inspectors across the various administrative regions in Guyana to take and test samples of fuel to determine whether it has been legitimately imported into the country.“At the end of November 2017, 32,027 samples were collected from 12,033 sites representing 91 per cent and 83 per cent of the respective targets for 2017. The total quantity of fuel seized for the same period was 11,794 gallons of diesel and gasoline as a result of 28 discoveries of illegal fuel at various locations,” the GEA had said.Additionally, the GEA had been able to secure five convictions for 2017 and according to the body’s legal officer, Thandiewe Benn, since the implementation of the fuel marking programme in 2004; they have been able to secure a total of 49 convictions.She had added that the work of the GEA to stamp out fuel smuggling is heavily dependent on the support from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Revenue Authority, and the Guyana Defence Force’s Coast Guard.The GEA added that the FMD’s inspectorate arm continues to conduct surveillance activities on suspects in the fuel smuggling network, with support from the collaborative agencies.To date, several personalities and their suspected areas of operations have been under surveillance at various times and at least 37 operations have been conducted during the nights targeting suspected smuggling operations.It is reported that the joint operations, as well as surveillance operations, have significantly contributed to the discoveries of illegal fuel recorded for the year 2017.