May 09, 2017 News
As the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) intensifies investigations into the 19 forensic audits that were referred to that entity, this newspaper has learnt that in excess of 200 persons have been blacklisted.
It means that those persons who have been identified by SOCU cannot leave Guyana through the lawful ports.
According to a government source, the list is being constantly updated as the crime unit delves deeper into suspected cases of money laundering and misuse of state funds by some officials.
The source said that during the conduct of the investigations, once suspected ‘skullduggery’ is detected the blacklist order is applied for by that unit to the relevant authority.
The source said that it should be made clear that blacklisting an individual is not something that is taken lightly or on a whim. A solid case has to be made before such an undertaking is made, he said.
The source said that while all efforts are being made to ensure persons who are under scrutiny by SOCU do not flee the jurisdiction that does not mean that such is not a possibility.
The government official said that collaborative efforts are ongoing with the relevant agencies to ensure that if there is a need to prosecute someone, that individual should be easily located.
The source said that this recent development was necessitated in the interest of justice and ensuring that persons who have stolen from the public purse answer for their alleged crimes.
Additionally, the source said that the administration has taken this position in lieu of the fact that a number of high profile officials are now living overseas and have no interest in returning.
The most notable public figures include former head of NICIL Winston Brassington who is now living in the United States of America in Florida even as SOCU is looking at 68 different investigations into NICIL.
The source said that it might just be a matter of time before charges are laid against Brassington but that will count for very little since the controversial figure is not in the country.
Then there is the former Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, whose role in a number of the investigations SOCU is conducting has been called into question but he too is no longer in Guyana.
Singh is believed to be residing in Dubai with his entire family. According to someone close to the investigations the former Minister of Finance has made it clear that he has no intention of returning to Guyana.
Singh’s situation presents a unique challenge to investigators, because if they augur any hopes of having Singh returned to Guyana that might not be possible since there isn’t an extradition treaty with the Arabian country.
The State is also looking to have Aeshwar ‘Ash’ Deonarine, the former Deputy CEO of GPL return to answer to charges of fraud. Deonarine is alleged to have transferred over $25M of the state’s funds into his own bank account; he is now residing in Canada.
This newspaper has also learnt that an official who is now living in North America is wanted in relation to serious fraud allegations at one of the 19 entities that SOCU is now investigating.
The source said that in light of those aforementioned cases that government is taking the required steps to stop such occurrences in the future.
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