British Advisor to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Dr. Sam Sittlington, has expressed confidence in the unit’s ability to gather evidence which will ultimately lead to successful prosecutions.
The expert, who was at the Guyana Police Force (GPF)’s seminar on Anti-Corruption, Anti-money Laundering and Asset Recovery, told media operatives: “The successes will come – I know what’s happening, there are cases in the courts and there will be cases in the courts in the next few days – but there will be successes, I know that”.
A few days ago, Dr. Sittlington was part of an operation which saw cartons of documents – believed to contain evidence – being seized from the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). The operation was conducted based on the findings from a forensic audit conducted into the operations of the entity.
SOCU has been taking leads on many of the probes, using the forensic audits as the basis. These probes include the case of the Sparendaam property, known as ‘Pradoville Two’, located on the East Coast of Demerara; the forensic audits of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL); the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
The Pradoville Two case in particular had resulted in criticisms from the public after it was discovered that state lands were allegedly converted into an exclusive scheme with lots being sold for as low as $1.5M to members and supporters of the previous regime, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP).
Asked if the Unit has had any success in gathering other evidence with regards to the Pradoville Two case, the Advisor responded in the affirmative. He however declined to comment further.
“’Yes, I don’t honestly want to comment right now. There are things ongoing at the moment.”
Quizzed on the SOCU’s capacity to handle these high-ranked cases, Dr. Sittlington admitted that the unit lacks manpower. However, he noted that it has the skills required to operate.
“It is a matter of prioritising and gathering what they need. One of the good things is that we have in-house lawyers; the special prosecutors assisting with cases. So there would be a lot better direction in terms of what they need for court. There is also a forensic accountant attached to the unit as well,” Dr Sittlington said.
Dr Sittlington’s advisory role to the SOCU is being facilitated by the British High Commission, and he will be in Guyana until February 2018, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan had explained at a press conference hosted earlier this month.
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