My take on Davis Casavis’s “Thomas Carroll Affair” – Ralph Seeram


JULY 28, 2013 | BY KNEWS | From the Diaspora…By Ralph Seeram

Sometime in the late nineties a friend of mine here in the United States asked me to loan him US$8,000. I had known him from boyhood days so if he was in a “jam” I would not have had any hesitation to loan him the money with just a “handshake”. I was agreeable to loan him the money, until he told me the reason.
He wanted to give the money to his sister in Guyana, who in turn will use it to buy a visa in Guyana to come to the USA.

The idea did not appeal to me. First I doubt anyone in the US Embassy in Georgetown will sell a visa. Secondly I did not like the repayment method. His sister will work when she comes here and repay me. I told my friend I had just made some other investments.  

Last Sunday I spent the entire day reading “The Thomas Carroll Affair” about a rogue US visa Officer at the Georgetown embassy. Only then I fully understood that the visa was being sold at the Embassy.

Unlike others I did not find the book “utter nonsense” but rather fascinating, informative and confirming events that were only rumors in that period.

The book demonstrates that corruption is not limited to poor Third World countries like Guyana; it was a multi-million-dollar industry conducted right inside the U S Embassy in Georgetown.
“The Thomas Carroll Affair” is basically about a rogue U S visa officer who conservatively pulled in over US$12M in bribes selling visas during a period of less than a year. At its height it was having a profound effect on the Guyanese economy, because Carroll had to be paid in US dollars. The demand for US dollars was high hence the exchange rates went up. On the flip side Carroll had to launder his money out the country.

One method was buying diamonds over the market price. This hurt the diamond industry and local diamond merchants and one merchant, Joe De Agrella, decided to do something about it. His action set in motion a chain of events that eventually lead to Carroll’s downfall.
It also demonstrates that the Embassy was prepared to “hush up” a little corruption to protect its image.

It is unbelievable what Thomas Carroll achieved in his short stay in Guyana. He established a network of criminals, visa brokers, money launderers, drug traffickers and enforcers. The latter is very disturbing as Carroll recruited late Police Officer Leon Fraser and members of the then Target Special Squad, more known as the “Black Clothes Police” as his enforcers, even suggesting they may have committed murder on his behalf, killing two “Rasta men” whom they believe stole some of the visa money.

The book is revealing in many ways.
There are some ironical if not comical moments, like when diamond merchant Joe De Agrella went to meet with then American Ambassador, Jack, to complain about the visa selling and how it was hurting the local diamond industry.

The Ambassador was instructed to meet with Joe after Joe had initiated some contacts in Washington. Joe was complaining about an unknown embassy official selling visa. Guess who was sitting with the Ambassador listening to the complaint; no other person than Thomas Carroll, the “unknown officer”. Then as a follow up the Embassy security officer recruited Patrick Mentore, a former senior police officer, then working at the US Embassy to spy on Carroll in order to build a case, but Carroll was a step ahead.

According to the author Carroll had Mentore in his pay, so Mentore’s reports basically cleared Carroll.

The book goes into details of a number of Guyanese players in the affair— Paul James from “Fix It Hardware”; visa broker Halim Khan who was lured to the USA, convicted and jailed for three years in federal prison for his role; and Linden London more known as “Blackie” who was killed in a shoot of with the army and police.
If the author is to be believed there is a veiled suggestion that “Blackie” was murdered by Leon Fraser during the shootout. The allegation is Blackie was having an affair with Fraser’s wife.

The book which is some 287 pages long is a must read for Guyanese. Some may not like his writing style, but as the book unfolds everything comes together. I believe it could have been shorter but then it is the author’s prerogative to write his book in his style.

Greed is always the weakness of humans and Thomas Carroll was no different. At the end of the day it was greed that did him in. He wanted another million dollar payday, and recruited his replacement to get him his million dollars by showing him the “ropes” to sell visas. What Carroll did not realize was his replacement recruited him.

I think what disappointed some reviewers was that they were looking for a PPP government connection in the affair. Except for one or two minor government employees there was nothing incriminating. However the author did point out that the Guyana Government failed to follow through on evidence in the Thomas Carroll case to arrest local persons involved. Carroll spent eight years in Federal prison.
I highly recommend reading the book.

Ralph Seeram can be reached at email:

— Guyanese Online Post #2920

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 07/28/2013 at 6:56 pm

    This true-life story sounds like the stuff of a Hollywood crime movie. I’ve added the book as a must-read on my reading list.

  • gobin  On 09/23/2013 at 2:10 pm

    Who is Ralph Seeram? Is he a jouirnalist?

    • guyaneseonline  On 09/23/2013 at 5:53 pm

      Ralph Seeram is a journalist, however he may also have other titles.

      Cyril Bryan, editor.

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