There is unhappiness with the current situation at the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) with regards to a number of high profile cases.
A number of ex-ministers and former senior government officials under the administrations of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic have been charged, with scores of other investigations ongoing.
The charges all stem from several forensic audits ordered by the Coalition Government in 2015 into the operations of government agencies.
Reviewing the reports of the forensic audits was Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma. He would have then handed over a number of those forensic audit reports to the police for further investigations.
Hundreds of millions of dollars would have been spent on not only on the forensic audits, but the subsequent investigations and then prosecutions.
Three years later after those audits, SOCU has within weeks lost two of its senior officials who were behind the high profile investigations that saw even the current presidential candidate for the PPP, Irfaan Ali, being slapped with several charges relating to the Pradoville Two transactions.
The absence of those two persons now has Minister Sharma worried, and even mystified why Ali was not facing more serious charges, based on the forensic audit report of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA).
Sharma, who is representing the Justice For All Party as part of the governing Coalition, in expressing frustration, took to Facebook this week, to express worry.
“Yes, I am very concerned about the investigations being stalled by the absence of two important figures in the work of the Guyana Police Force’s SOCU, as the findings from the Forensic Review/Audits was (sic) very revealing to say the least.”
The two officials he is referring to are Forensic Analyst, Sheronie James, and Dr. Sam Sittlington.
James resigned a few weeks ago with questions raised about her qualifications. She later issued a statement insisting that her qualifications were never in doubt and that she had made the decision on her own. She was said to be critical to many of the investigations, even testifying in court.
James is said to be a British citizen.
With regards to Sittlington, he was a critical advisor to SOCU who was let go by the British government after it was discovered that he had a local investigations company, a conflict to his work.
According to Minister Sharma, the absence of the two would impact the investigations.
“My friends, I did my part as the Minister with the responsibility for reviewing the Forensic Review/Forensic Audit Reports for GRDB and others. I had recommended that some of these reports be submitted to the Commissioner of Police, which I did forward to the top COP for further investigation and possibly charges where act of fraud was perpetrated, which includes false statements, misrepresentation or deceitful conduct.”
He questioned the charges of fraud against Ali, noting it was not reflective of the grave nature of the forensic audit findings.
“As you know, the former Minister, now PPP/C Presidential Candidate was charged who is presently before the courts but strangely the charges were not in keeping with the more serious breaches as was highlighted in the Forensic Report of CH&PA and I am asking myself, why?”
The Coalition Government has taken a beating on the investigations and charges and rate of successful convictions.
Several ex-ministers and former government officials were questioned, many of them photographed and face splashed in the media.
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