Ex-Venezue­lan diplo­mat’s Land Rover seized pend­ing $2.4M tax pay­ment, pri­vate reg­is­tra­tion


Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS -

A ve­hi­cle be­long­ing to for­mer First Sec­re­tary of the Em­bassy of the Bo­li­var­ian Repub­lic of Venezuela, Luz Leon Guillen was re­cently seized pend­ing the pay­ment of $2.4 mil­lion in pro-rated taxes and its reg­is­tra­tion as a pri­vate ve­hi­cle, Guyana Rev­enue Author­ity (GRA) last evening con­firmed.

She is yet to re­spond to an of­fer made to have the ve­hi­cle ex­ported to avoid pay­ment of the out­stand­ing taxes, the agency also said.

A week ago, the woman told on­line news out­fit News­room that she felt that her rights were be­ing tram­pled upon. She was adamant that she didn’t owe taxes since the 2003 Land Rover, which she owns, was ac­quired via a duty-free con­ces­sion. Though she ceased work­ing at the em­bassy here since Novem­ber, 2017, she re­mains in Guyana and now works as a trans­la­tor for Cubans who have ap­point­ments at the United States Em­bassy in Ge­orge­town.

GRA yes­ter­day re­sponded to con­tents of the News­room ar­ti­cle.

Ac­cord­ing to GRA, on Oc­to­ber 25th, 2018, it re­ceived a cor­re­spon­dence from the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs with an at­tached let­ter from the Venezue­lan Em­bassy, stat­ing Guillen’s tour ended in Novem­ber 2017, and re­quest­ing that the diplo­matic li­cence plate DPL-604 regis­tered to the Venezue­lan Em­bassy be with­drawn and put out of cir­cu­la­tion.

Act­ing thereon, the GRA said its Law En­force­ment and In­ves­ti­ga­tion Divi­sion (LEID) in­ter­cepted the mo­tor ve­hi­cle bear­ing the said diplo­matic plate and ad­vised her that in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of Ar­ti­cle 34 and Ar­ti­cle 39 of the Priv­i­leges and Im­mu­ni­ties (Diplo­matic Con­sular and In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tions) Act, re­spec­tively, that pro­rated taxes of $2.4 mil­lion must be paid and the ve­hi­cle pri­vately regis­tered or, un­til then, the ve­hi­cle can­not be driven un­der the said with­drawn diplo­matic plate.

“At no time was the for­mer First sec­re­tary treated with dis­re­spect,” the re­lease said while ex­plain­ing that when the mat­ter was brought to the at­ten­tion of the Com­mis­sioner-Gen­eral, “dis­cre­tion was ex­er­cised” to al­low for the mo­tor ve­hi­cle to be uti­lized by her pro­vided that she takes the nec­es­sary steps to have it regis­tered with an or­di­nary reg­is­tra­tion num­ber and any out­stand­ing pro-rated Ex­cise tax paid on or be­fore De­cem­ber 1st, 2018, (the date of her pur­ported re­turn ticket) should the mo­tor ve­hi­cle be sold or re­main in the ju­ris­dic­tion af­ter that date.

“In the al­ter­na­tive, no tax will be payable should the ve­hi­cle be ex­ported. The Guyana Rev­enue Author­ity has ad­vised her of the said of­fer which to date she has failed to take up,” it said.

Guillen, who is an At­tor­ney-at-law, Spe­cial­ist in Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Res­o­lu­tion of Con­flicts, Mas­ter in In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies and Diplo­matic Re­la­tions, told News­room that she re­mained in Guyana pend­ing the re­ceipt of a ticket from her coun­try to travel back home. Ac­cord­ing to her, she re­ceived the ticket on Oc­to­ber 17th and is due to leave Guyana on De­cem­ber 1st, 2018.

She in­sisted that she re­mains in the em­ploy of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs in Venezuela and even though the ve­hi­cle be­longs to her, she is au­tho­rised to use the diplo­matic plates and re­mains in Guyana un­der diplo­matic sta­tus, granted by Ar­ti­cle 39.2 of the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion.

Fol­low­ing the seizure of the ve­hi­cle, she said she sought the in­ter­ven­tion of Guyana’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry and wrote a let­ter to the Di­rec­tor of the Pro­to­col De­part­ment ex­plain­ing what hap­pened but got no as­sis­tance.

She said, too, that she vis­ited the For­eign Min­istry in Ge­orge­town on June 25th, 2018, to in­quire about the process of re­turn­ing her diplo­matic plate so she can use the reg­u­lar plates and ini­ti­ate the sale of her ve­hi­cle but was told that she needed to sub­mit her re­turn date to Venezuela first.

She wants the ve­hi­cle to be re­turned to her and said that she is con­tem­plat­ing tak­ing le­gal ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to the News­room ar­ti­cle.

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