–after agency refuses to hand over documents
The challenges of the police Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to investigate a number of state agencies are continuing.
Yesterday, the unit, which focuses on financial crimes and money laundering, was forced once again to turn to the courts after the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) did not cooperate in the handing over of a number of critical documents.
GEA is a state-controlled entity that regulates the fuel trade, with duties including the licensing of operators and retailers.
Shortly after 10:00hrs yesterday, SOCU officials, led by Assistant Commissioner, Sydney James, entered the Quamina Street, Georgetown headquarters of GEA. There were a number of police ranks with his team.
Around 11:00hrs, James on exiting the compound, explained that he had obtained a search warrant from a magistrate yesterday.
He admitted that SOCU had asked the energy agency for some documents but encountered “challenges”.
The documents relate to two investigations that SOCU is handling. One has to do with the findings of a forensic audit that the Coalition Government had ordered into the operations of GEA in the years, under the last administration, leading up to the 2015 general elections.
The other has to do with an investigation by the Ministry of the Presidency last year to alleged malpractice, mismanagement and the purchases of hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel handled by both GEA and the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil).
The SOCU head confirmed that Dr. Mahender Sharma, head of GEA, was in office and was “cooperating”. There were no signs of Sharma.
James said that the documents were requested but some challenges came up.
“That is all I care to comment…”
He declined to delve into details.
However, while the SOCU official was tightlipped, Kaieteur News was reliably informed that the unit has been engaging the energy agency but Dr. Sharma refused to hand over the documents.
Rather, he insisted that investigators visit his office and sift through the documents there.
SOCU then took the course of approaching the court for a search warrant yesterday and it was granted.
The GEA challenge would follow the high-profile one with the privately-controlled Guyana Bank For Trade and Industry (GBTI).
SOCU was tracking where US$500M went. That was money representing payment for farmers in the Venezuela rice-for-oil deal with Guyana.
The investigators questioned where some of the US$500M went. The trail suggested some foreign banks, under the direction of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB).
However, SOCU was unable to proceed with the investigations as GBTI did not hand over the documents, despite four court orders.
In defence, the bank claimed it could not locate some of the documents. Some 9,000 was being asked for. Some of the documents may have also been destroyed.
On Monday, the impasse with the bank culminated in a highly-embarrassing court appearance of the directors and chief, to answer contempt charges, in relation to the four court orders.
The attention is on SOCU as it has been handed several highly complex investigations, from the much publicized Pradoville Two land sale to former ministers and government officials, to alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars at the GRDB.
Several persons have been charged, including former General Manager, Jagnarine Singh, and his deputy, Ricky Ramraj.
There are multiple other investigations being run by SOCU into transactions of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), which sold several state properties under suspicious circumstances.
Government has hired a number of special prosecutors but some of the completed files have been in limbo for a number of months now.
Oct 13, 2019Barbados Tridents won their second Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title as Guyana Amazon Warriors’ perfect season unraveled at the worst possible moment. The Warriors had won all 11 matches...
Cyril Belgrave, one of the finest politicians the PPP produced, died this week. His death coincided with information I stumbled... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]