The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) is currently conducting 86 different investigations into
the operations of National Investment and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
According to the Head of SOCU Sydney James, these investigations are complex and the entity has to prioritize since there are in excess of 300 investigations that they are conducting with a limited staff. James said that significant moves should be expected in the coming days and weeks.
He explained that in the interest of justice there is very little he can say. However, he maintained that the investigation into NICIL is “a very live one”. Additionally it was noted that of all the entities under investigation, NICIL is the one where the most malpractices were found. Further James said that SOCU is working closely with the Special Prosecutors who are advising them on these matters.
James said that there are significant developments ongoing behind the scenes that he cannot talk about since this investigation may overlap into different entities and persons outside of NICIL.
Dr Sam Sittlington, the British Adviser to SOCU, said that he is pleased with the work that is being done by the entity in light of the limited staff it has available and the amount of investigations it is conducting simultaneously. Sittlington said that it was a good move to have SOCU and the Special Prosecutors work in tandem, since this is playing a pivotal role in moving many of these cases forward.
Sittlington said that he wanted to make clear that he is only advising the current administration and nothing else. He stated that persons looking from the outside will think that much is not being done, but in fact they are working tirelessly
to bring many of these cases to court.
When asked about officials who may be implicated in wrongdoing that are now living abroad, Sittlington said that if these people are certain that they have done nothing wrong they should make themselves available for questioning if it comes to that.
Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran discovered that in relation to the expenditure on the 2007 Cricket World Cup, NICIL had transferred amounts totaling $650 million to the Local Organizing Committee, but failed in its responsibility of ensuring that there was proper accountability for the amounts transferred.
With regards to the construction of a controversial property at 44 High Street in Georgetown, the forensic auditor found that the contract was awarded in 2007 but at the time of reporting, the building remained substantially incomplete. Goolsarran stated in his report that the building was abandoned, and the structure was expected to be torn down because the floors were not constructed to the required specifications.
He said that as the “Project Executing Unit”, NICIL’s role was to ensure that the works were executed according to the agreed specifications and had again failed to discharge its responsibility for this project, resulting in some $350 million of taxpayers’ funds being wasted.
Goolsarran in his report also stated that despite the size and complexity of its operations, NICIL does not have its own procurement rules, which is a key requirement of the Procurement Act. In the circumstances, he said that it would have been more appropriate for NICIL to involve the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) in the assessment of tenders received for the award of contracts. Instead, the assessment of bids was done internally, and would have lacked the level of independence, especially for large projects such as the Marriott Hotel.
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