The government of Guyana has revealed that it has recently employed two financial analysts and a number of fraud investigators to aid the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in conducting investigations.
This disclosure was made by Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan. Ramjattan said that the additional staff will ensure that investigations are done in a timely manner and will lessen the workload on the current investigators.
The Public Security Minister said that the two financial analysts will be tasked with helping SOCU understand and investigate white collar crimes. Ramjattan said that at present the entity has a large chunk of such cases it is investigating.
He asserted that these officials, who are qualified in detecting complex financial malpractices, will strengthen the overall investigative capacity of SOCU.
On the additional fraud investigators, Ramjattan was reluctant to divulge how many were hired. He said he has taken that position since it would be unwise to let persons know what goes on at SOCU, operationally.
The unit is looking at a number of cases of suspected malfeasance, one such case is the Sparendaam Housing Scheme project, dubbed Pradoville 2. It was recently revealed that a number of persons are likely to be charged in relation to that controversial project.
When the APNU+AFC administration went into government a number of forensic audits were done and more than 20 of those audits were handed over to SOCU to investigate.
The forensic audit of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) found a number of suspected irregularities. The audit found that NICIL reportedly paid over $100M to take down a tower and build the new transmitting facility and charge the expense to NCN.
Significant sums from the state were also spent on the construction of roads, drainage network and other works at Pradoville 2. The developed house lots, complete with infrastructure, were then sold below market value to selected individuals.
There is no evidence that the house lots sale was advertised or what procedures were used in the allocations of the parcels of the ocean front properties.
There are also no details of whether the recipients were owners of properties at the time. If they were, they would have been barred from buying the lands under regulations of the Central Housing and Planning Authority.
Then there is the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). Among some of the “anomalies” found were loans without proper paperwork or promissory notes.
There were other instances of persons in the agency using GRDB’s money to trade in foreign currency.
The losses for the Government would have been significant, especially if the money was traded for less than it should have been.
The Auditor General and the forensic audit reports have all pointed to severe deficiencies in the manner the monies of the state have been handled by the entities.
Just recently the Junior Minister of Finance Jaipaul Sharma handed over six additional forensic audits to SOCU. Those audits were National Insurance Scheme; National Drainage and Irrigation Authority; Guyana Lotteries Commission; Scrap Metal Unit; Central Housing and Planning Authority and the water cannon purchase.
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