May 21, 2017 News
The Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Assistant Commissioner Sydney James is slated to attend a meeting of the asset recovery inter-agency network for the Caribbean region to be held in Miami, Florida.
The two day meeting will be held on June 28 and 29, and will bring together security officials from across the region to discuss and formulate strategies in dealing with asset recovery.
The programme will be facilitated by the Department against Transnational Organized Crime of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, in conjunction with the Organization of American States.
The participants are expected to discuss a proposal by a group of experts to establish an asset recovery inter-agency network. It is hoped that the establishment of such an agency will enhance international cooperation both within the region and with asset recovery inter-agency networks worldwide.
The APNU+AFC government has placed greater emphasis on issues in this regard, since it has long been the view of government officials, even when in opposition, that public officials were siphoning off state assets.
In 2015 when the current administration went into power, a number of forensic audits were conducted on numerous government entities to ascertain the financial health of those entities. Upon completion of those audits, 19 were sent to SOCU, because numerous financial and other irregularities were found and warranted criminal investigations.
The most notable investigation with issues of ‘giveaways’ of state assets is the controversial Pradoville 2 investigation that SOCU is currently conducting.
A number of former public officials and former government ministers were questioned by SOCU in relation to the same investigation.
Investigators believe that house lot recipients at the Pradoville 2 scheme bought lands at a substantially lower price than what they should have paid.
Recently President Granger assented to the State Assets Recovery Bill making it law. The opposition Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) has vehemently objected to the content of the bill. It is the party’s view that the Bill gives too much power to the head of that entity. However government has indicated that assets will not be confiscated on a ‘whim’, since a court order will have to be granted permitting seizures.
The Bill introduces legislation to combat unlawful conduct and corrupt practices in relation to property and other assets owned by the State, or in which the State has an interest.
The Bill also provides for the establishment of the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) which has as its primary function, the civil recovery of state property obtained through the unlawful conduct of a public official or other person, or any benefit obtained in connection with that unlawful conduct, by way of civil proceedings taken in the High Court for a civil recovery order.
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