… insists “there is a list”
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament, (MP), Juan Edghill, is convinced that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is being insincere about the blacklist. The politician said that he was reliably informed that the
blacklist which the Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud presented to the Commissioner of Information, Charles Ramson, is not the true list.
Further, Edghill said that he has reason to believe that the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) holds a blacklist that is separate and apart from the general list held by the GPF under which SOCU falls.
Kaieteur News had reported that SOCU blacklisted just about 200 Guyanese who were the subjects of investigations that are being carried out further to the findings of forensic audits ordered by the coalition government.
Weeks after the story was published the GPF issued a statement saying that Kaieteur News fabricated the article.
However, intelligence gathered by the PPP/C is to the effect that the article published by this newspaper has factual grounds, Edghill said.
“There is indeed a list; we (the PPP/C) know this to be true. I will relentlessly be pursuing that list,” said Edghill. He said that while the party has very reliable information about the list, it continues to get a difficult time sourcing the entire document.
Edghill admitted that he was trying to force the hand of Kaieteur News to reveal its source when he said that the newspapers’ “credibility is on the line with this fake news.”
“I was hoping that Kaieteur News would put pressure on the police force to expose the truth; that is why I was specific to state that the newspaper’s reputation is on the line,” said Edghill.
He continued, “We heard that the list that the Commissioner of Police submitted to the Commissioner of Information is not the sum total of what exists. We have also heard that they have been busy modifying that other list.”
Edghill went on to admit that he has a motive. “I can assure you I have an intention and it is not with Kaieteur News. My intent is to expose the wickedness of the Government of Guyana and the police force, especially SOCU. Because, unknown to their victims, they got them under surveillance; they (SOCU) got their watch list/blacklist.
Edghill said that while the list sent to the Commissioner of Information is available for his inspection he will be pursuing further into the matter “because I am hearing from very reliable sources that there is still another list separate and apart from what has been submitted…that is fact.”
The MP said he will utilize every means available and “if it means going back to the Commissioner of Information I will.”
Another PPP/C official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that he knows that there was a “scramble” to tailor the list after the story was made public and reactions were made. The official said that SOCU knows very well that “the list is unlawful because of the grounds used. They have made no charges against many persons who have made the list and no High Court order was given.”
The GPF had said that “the allegation that 200 persons were blacklisted by the Special Organized Crime Unit is a fabrication.” The press release was issued almost three weeks after the Kaieteur News article was carried.
Edghill wrote to the Commissioner of Police on May 9 requesting the names of the persons blacklisted. By letter dated May 22, the Commissioner of Police responded. He did not deny the assertion that 200 Guyanese have been ‘blacklisted’ by the GPF.
Instead, he told Edghill that he was advised by the Police Legal Advisor to direct the request to the Commissioner of Information.
Days after that and after the Commissioner of Information would have written the GPF, only then did the entity refute Kaieteur News’ article.
The release stated, “The Police Blacklist over the last ten years contained a total of one hundred and thirty nine ( 139) persons with 11 from 2008; 11 from 2009; 15 from 2010; five from 2011; 18 from 2012; 23 from 2013; 11 from 2014; 12 from 2015; 16 from 2016; and 17 so far for 2017. It should be noted, that this list predates SOCU and the number of names on the list includes those from the entire Guyana Police Force, as well as other law enforcement agencies in Guyana. Finally, the Force wishes the public to be informed, that the information requested by the Commissioner of Information regarding the persons on the Blacklist, has been dispatched.”
Kaieteur News understands that the only alleged white collar criminals on the list that has been provided to the Commissioner of Information, are former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Presidency Omar Shariff and his spouse. Up until Kaieteur News broke the story, the list was being constantly updated. This was being done as the crime unit delved deeper into suspected cases of money laundering and misuse of state funds by some officials.The source for Kaieteur News article said that the administration has taken the decision to blacklist persons of interest 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. 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. 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.
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