“Corruption should be driven out wherever its exits. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are, there must be no impunity. Corruption is at the centre of every issue affecting the Globe and we must overcome it if we are to promote prosperity,” – British High Commissioner, Gregory Quinn.
Several law enforcement officials will now be more equipped to identify indicators associated with corruption and the movement of dirty monies, having participated in a seminar hosted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) yesterday.
The seminar entitled, “Anti-Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering and Asset Recovery”, was hosted at the Police Officers’ Training Centre located at Camp Road, Eve Leary, Georgetown.
The event saw officials from several crime prevention entities and agencies that are involved in combating financial crimes attending. These included the Criminal Investigations Department (CID); the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU); the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU); and the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Representatives of several city banks were also present.
Delivering opening remarks was the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, who spoke briefly about the adverse effects of corruption.
The High Commissioner told the attendees that corruption and money laundering are both “cancers” that reduce the funding available by Government to function effectively and efficiently.
“It has a direct impact on the citizenry and their ability to live their lives. Corruption undermines trust and confidence in Governments (and) both are a problem here in Guyana,” Quinn said.
The envoy is of the opinion that there are too many that “still think they can get away with corruption and financial abuse “and posited that if Guyana is to grow and achieve its full potential for the betterment of all, it would be necessary to address both issues.
“Corruption should be driven out wherever it exits. In short, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are, there must be no impunity. Corruption is at the centre of every issue affecting the Globe and we must overcome it if we are to promote prosperity,” Quinn said.
In conclusion, Quinn stated that corrupt officials are “not unlike terrorists” since they both destroy lives and undermine confidence. He emphasised that integrity cannot be bought, and the importance of tackling these issues cannot, in any way, shape or form, be underestimated.
Also addressing the gathering was the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, who dubbed the seminar as an important one.
He said that corruption and money laundering are issues that the administration does not take lightly and he took the opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to eradicate corruption “wherever they may be present”.
“Corruption involves the misuse of power by people who in their official position exploit the power in which they are entrusted by seeking private gain. Illicit activities such as money laundering, misappropriation of public property, bribery, embezzlement and misuse of public office, are the by-products of corruption,” Williams explained.
He stressed also on the impact these two issues have on a country’s economic growth since they deter investors; both foreign and local.
“Further, corruption affects the integrity of financial institutions and undermines public confidence in the financial system, as criminals will use these institutions to process their ill-gotten gains.
“Corruption erodes public confidence in the Government, as citizens will no longer trust State institutions. This leads to persons being unwilling to participate in society…and public participation is imperative in any democratic society,“ Williams said.
The Attorney General said that there needs to be zero-tolerance to corruption and every citizen has an obligation to end it.
He stated that one way which he believes is instrumental in ending corruption, is by having strong a legislative framework that promotes the prevention, detection and prosecution.
“Already we have laws that seek to aid in the fight against corruption. Legislation such as the Integrity Commissions Act, Chapter 26:01, which is soon to be amended, to give it “more teeth”; and also the Access to Information Act 2001, which provides the practical regime to counter corruption by promoting transparency and accountability in the working of Government.”
Williams said also that the State Asset Recovery Bill, the Witness Protection Bill and the Prohibited Disclosures (Whistleblowers’ Bill) once enacted, will enable the authorities to tackle corruption.
“We will have to be more proactive in seeking international assistance, as well as cooperating with other states by sharing information. Anti-corruption initiatives can only be successful if there is recognition of the adverse effects of corruption and the willingness on all stakeholders to work to eradicate it,” Williams told the gathering.
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