Apr 21, 2018 News
The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) yesterday disclosed that it has acquired reports from international agencies that detail the massive scale of corruption and money laundering under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration.
SARA’s Director Professor, Clive Thomas, made the disclosure in a written response to the People’s Progressive Party’s Gail Teixeira. The Opposition Chief Whip wrote to Prof. Thomas this week to decline an invitation for Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to attend yesterday’s anti-corruption march.
According to Prof. Thomas, documents received from external law enforcement agencies such as Interpol, the United States Homeland Security and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) have shown the massive scale of corruption and money laundering during the late 2000s to the mid 2010s.
Prof. Thomas said that little, if anything institutionally was done between 2008 and the mid 2010s to ensure “corruption is everybody’s business” until the SARA Act of April 4, 2017, just over a year ago.
“This took place in spite of numerous annual reports over the last decade made by local, as well as external bodies like the United Nations Drugs and Crime Office, the US State Department in its, “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report” and annual Transparency International reports. These have depicted Guyana as one of the most corrupt nations in the world,” Thomas noted.
He added that this makes for perhaps, the unintended mockery of the PPP’s comment in their Release of April 14, 2018, which claimed that the Coalition Government can easily be classified as the ‘most corrupt Government in the post-independent English speaking Caribbean’.
“Corruption is everyone’s business and by that we mean, the prevention of corruption is everyone’s business. The Guyanese and international public know the facts about corruption over the decades as these are recorded in various annuals, reports and documents.
“Local realities reveal massive unexplained wealth, roads that crumble after a few months and systemic evasion of taxes,” Prof. Thomas outlined.
In the letter to Prof. Thomas, Teixeira had alleged that the current Government had engaged in acts of corruption when it executed projects that included the procurement of drugs and the rental of a drug bond, among others.
Prof. Thomas noted that several of the projects listed by the Teixeira have been reported in the media, but contrary to popular political belief, SARA does not and cannot initiate investigations without first receiving a complaint, which is in keeping with international best practices processes designed to ensure transparency, fairness and legal appropriateness.
“SARA has seen numerous newspapers reports about a Permanent Secretary under your government who had $20 plus billion passing through his bank accounts. SARA has not investigated him because it is a criminal case,” Thomas stated.
He said that SARA is often purposefully confused with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). According to the director, SARA is also not allowed to pursue “unexplained wealth”; this is the purview of other law enforcement groups.
“There will be many other public engagements with civil society, schools, ministries, the private sector, as well as religious and community organisations. The goal is to repel procurement fraud, stolen state assets, corruption so that Guyanese of all walks of life, can be assured their roads, national patrimony, gold and other state assets are used for the betterment of all Guyanese,” Prof. Thomas assured.
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