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Britain to help train staff at newly-formed Special Organised Crime Unit

Police Commissioner (ag) Seelall Persaud, British High Commissioner Andrew Ayre, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon and Head of SOCU, Lt. Col Sydney James after the signing of the MOU for the training and mentoring of staff attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (GINA photo)

A Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Guyana and the United Kingdom has paved the way for training and mentoring for the staff of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) created by the government to investigate money laundering crimes, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Signing on the ruling administration’s behalf today, was Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, who said that it was remarkable that such an event could occur within the relatively short space of time that SOCU was conceptualised and established to investigate suspected money laundering crimes, prosecuting persons suspected of terrorism and financial offences. 

Investigations and prosecution of money laundering activities, Dr. Luncheon said, along with the financing of terrorism crimes, became a matter of concern in Guyana’s mutual evaluation under the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) programme of activities, “and the response was the Special Organised Crime Unit”.

He added that from SOCU’s gestation to the present, certified and verified support by the donor community, the time frame of less than six months, point to how much could be achieved when all work together.

“This is a further example of the Government of Guyana and the donor community as prime stakeholders in this struggle against serious crimes, as they go out in positioning Guyana to respond to its obligations.”

Referring to the words of advice from a British expert on money laundering, who explained that jailing offenders was no longer seen as a deterrent, and recognised that in these modern times, forfeiture of assets and interrupting the financing of those with criminal intent were added factors, said the HPS.

He emphasised to the head of SOCU, Lt Col. Sydney James that his successes will not be measured necessarily in convictions and putting criminals behind bar, “A different order is required and it is our fervent hope, our expectation that this training that flows from the execution of the memorandum of understanding, and indeed the very existence of SOCU, would indeed give rise to expectations that are met, and that can clearly demonstrate that, yes Guyana is meeting its obligations to its people and its obligations to the rest of the world, when it comes to fighting money laundering and financing of terrorism”.

The agreement will result in significant support from the UK, for SOCU, according to British High Commissioner, Andrew Ayre. “It is important to us both, that organised crime is tackled, at its root, both in Guyana and outside the confines of Guyana. It is also important, today, because it helps Guyana to fulfill its international obligations under the Financial Action Task Force’s framework”. 

 

The High Commissioner also wished the SOCU, “every success” and also thanked the United States Government for supporting the initiative.

 This most recent MOU builds on a previous one signed on January 13, for similar assistance.

Despite the non-support from the Parliamentary Opposition of the FATF compliant Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Bill, and its subsequent non passage in the National Assembly, Government has indicated that it will be doing all that can be accomplished within international regulations to put measures in place to signal its support for the internationally required financial obligations.

Guyana’s case comes up for review in October, by the FATF.