Guyana revenue chief wants police to probe how newspaper got confidential emails it published

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The head of Guyana's revenue agency said Saturday that he wants an investigation into how the South American country's leading newspaper obtained confidential emails between him and top officials who sought sensitive tax information about the paper.

Tax agency chief Kurshid Sattaur said in a statement that he has written police formally asking for a criminal investigation.

This past week, The Kaieteur News published stories about emails from Attorney General Anil Nandlall and former President Bharrat Jagdeo asking Sattaur to supply them with details about the tax payment records of the newspaper and its publisher and owner, Glenn Lall, who is a strong critic of the government.

The paper has in recent months angered President Donald Ramatour's administration with a series of stories on state projects that the News charges are riddled with corruption that is diverting millions to officials, friends and relatives.

The request for an investigation came less than a week after the revenue agency charged Lall with six counts of tax evasion.

Sattaur alleges Lall evaded a large sum in import taxes by having friends import two vehicles in their names and then turn them over to the publisher and his wife.

Lall is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 12. Conviction would carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine equal to three times the amount of evaded taxes.

Sattaur has not denied the authenticity of the emails published by the newspaper. He says a comprehensive audit of the News was warranted because of suspicions about tax evasion on newspaper ink and other imported products.