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Sunday 15 September 2019
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‘I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT US$2M’

SANTA CRUZ businessman Ricky Ragoonanan last evening made it clear to Newsday that he knows nothing about US$2 million which was found stashed among plyboard in a container at the Port in Pt Lisas last year. He spoke with this reporter hours after he was released by police who earlier yesterday, arrested him and a male relative at Ragoonanan’s businessplace.

At 10am, Ragoonanan and the other relative were detained by a party of officers from the Customs and Excise and the TT Police Service’s Financial Intelligence Bureau (FIB). He was interrogated for several hours at FIB’s office in Port-of-Spain into alleged money laundering, drug smuggling and smuggling of US currency into the country.

But speaking with Newsday, Ragoonanan insisted he is being victimised and his name and character dragged through the mud by the State. Ragoonanan, 39, was released from police custody at about 6.30 pm and walked out of the FIB office accompanied by his attorney Gerald Ramdeen.

Ragoonanan who has been given State contracts to build schools and has a lucrative scaffolding and party rental company, said that during his eight-hour detention at the FIB office, he was questioned about his bank account and was asked repeatedly if he had any money in the United States, the British Virgin Islands and also if he was connected to any businesses (legal or otherwise) in those countries.

During the interrogation, Ragoonanan said, at no time was he asked about US$2 million which was found among plywood sheets in a container at the Point Lisas port in early November.

“I know nothing about that money. I don’t know how my name became linked to that and to my utter surprise, minutes after I was detained it was being reported on the radio news and online, that I was arrested and that charges were being laid against me for the US$2 million found in the container,” Ragoonanan said.

The businessman said he cooperated fully with the police and said he has nothing to hide. He believes he is being made a scapegoat by police and the Customs and Excise who are under immense pressure (political and otherwise) to arrest and charge someone in connection with the find.

Ragoonanan said the entire incident yesterday had left him drained and under severe emotional stress.

He fears his reputation and even business prospects could be negatively affected by the actions of the state and by media reports. He said if the authorities are truly interested, they can make their background checks into him and his business to see that he is legitimate.

In December, police and Customs and Excise officers raided Ragoonanan’s businessplace in Santa Cruz and seized documents and a hard drive from his computer. He was advised by officers of the FIB that he was the subject of an investigation and an effort would be made to interview him at a later date. Two other businessmen were also questioned in connection with the US$2 million find.

On November 2, a container with false documents arrived at the Port in Pt Lisas and a few days later a search was carried out of the container and US$2 million was found in blue crocus bags between plywood sheets.

The money is under lock and key at the Central Bank.

Yesterday sources at the FIB and Customs and Excise told Newsday they were working closely with US Customs and Border Protection in Tortola and Miami to bring closure to the investigation.

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