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SOCU raids home, store of Regent Street businessman; PPP peeved

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is peeved at the continued operations of the Special and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) while it remains under the auspices of the Ministry of the Presidency.

The latest incident as revealed by Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was the raid of the Kitty home of a businessman in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Nandall detailed that close to a dozen ranks from SOCU descended on the home of the businessman at about 5 AM and proceeded to conduct a search and seizure under the claim that they were investigating money laundering.  The PPPC parliamentarian said SOCU agents carted off computers belonging to the businessman and his children as well as accounting records for the businessman. No cash was seized, he said.

The Former AG also revealed that searches were also conducted on the Regent Street business of the man. The business, which sells mostly clothing,  is located between Camp and Wellington Streets in the vicinity of a filling station.

“This is a man who has never been charged for any offence. I would know, I am his lawyer,” Nandlall stated.

Nandall charged that the search may have been politically motivated and is more than likely abuse of power granted to SOCU under the Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (2015).

He said that the specific provision in the law was vehemently opposed by the Opposition since they suspected that it may have been abused.

Nandlall imitated too that the right to search, seize and detain should have been limited to Ports of Entry and not the entire country.

“From all the evidence being unearthed, it is clear that all the apprehensions and concerns we expressed are being borne out,” Nandlall said adding that SOCU is being “used as a weapon.”

PPP Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had raised strenuous objections to the appearance of the law enforcement agency under the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP).

She said that the Government must provide an explanation for SOCU’s appearance under the Ministry of the Presidency noting that it contradicted the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill 2015.

“I am asking how is SOCU under the office of the President…SOCU does not belong here,” Teixeira declared. She also questioned whether the government will be making any steps to rectify the issue as is.

State Minister Joseph Harmon in his response stated that SOCU is being transitioned to its legal agency.