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“SOCU being kicked about like a political football” – British expert says unit needs resources

Irish Financial Investigation Expert Sam Sittlington

Irish Financial Investigation Expert Sam Sittlington

Financial Investigation Expert Sam Sittlington has decried the manner in which Guyana’s political leadership is addressing matters concerning the Special and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), while calling for more to be done in terms of investment for the Unit.

Sittlington, who recently completed a five week advisory partnership with SOCU, highlighted the concern at a British High Commission press conference on Wednesday.

Concerns about SOCU have risen in the past weeks with the Opposition alleging that the organization was being politically directed and used to carry out attacks.

“From all the evidence being unearthed, it is clear that all the apprehensions and concerns we expressed are being borne out,” former Attorney General Anil Nandlall recently stated while adding that SOCU is being “used as a weapon.”

However, Sittlington at the press conference stated that he is delighted with what he is seeing in SOCU.

“There are difficulties and there have been difficulties but I think there is focus now on what can be achieved and direction in how they can achieve what SOCU was set up to do,” he stated.

Sittlington was pellucid that legitimate business has nothing to fear noting that politically motivated statements may have some demoralizing effect.

“Recently in the press we have all seen SOCU being kicked about like a political football. The comments made can be demoralising for the staff and certainly for Assistant Commissioner James. But you know what, they get on with their job, in a professional manner,” said the Irish financial crimes expert and former police investigator who now heads his own entity called The Fraud Company.

On his recommendations, he said that there needs to be a clear indication of which Ministry the unit would fall under and where the resources would be coming from.

“A number of Ministries have a say in the functioning of SOCU and this creates confusion and instability. To have clear Ministerial direction and funding from one source and a budget that caters for the operational needs of SOCU is a priority,” he stated adding “If I was to describe the current process of obtaining equipment to assist SOCU operations I would use the terms beg, steal or borrow, and I wouldn’t be far wrong.”

The Expert also signaled the need for the agency to have more resources since the currently available resources are woefully inadequate.

He said that while SOCU is currently conducting 285 investigations with less than ten persons working at the agency.

“SOCU currently manage a total of 285 investigations, 59 of those are live investigations of which immediate action is required and the remaining held until further intelligence becomes available. Prioritising is essential.  They also service the needs of other agencies, being reactive to ongoing operations conducted by these agencies. They are also expecting further large NICIL type investigations to reach their doors in the coming weeks. This workload cannot be sustained within the current staff,” he said.

  • Emile_Mervin

    1. Take SOCU from under Ministry of the Presidency.

    2. Return it under the Police Force, with the Assistant Commissioner reporting to the Commissioner, who will report to the President. NOT TO THE MINISTER OF STATE!

    3. Pass appropriate legislation to guide SOCU.

    4, And for crying out loud, end the confusion over have SARU, SOCU, FIU and a Major Crimes Unit.

    BTW, when will the audited reports be submitted to Parliament? The local private media have to stop waiting hand and foot for press releases and start asking questions around which news stories can revolve.

    • SYL

      Are you serious 285 investigations with 10 people! Someone in GT is loosing it. Now its clear why the criminals are running wild in the land, and the fat cats did what they did, and got away with it, because they know it shall take forever to do the work and catch them.Crime needs MONEY to fight it, no money more crime. I HOPE IT WAS NOT A MIS-PRINT 10 MEN VERSES 285 . Result , game over!

      • Emile_Mervin

        Syl, I look at this through a different prism. Why is this guy explaining to the media what he did and what he uncovered when this should gave been done by the coalition? Ramjattan, as the Public Safety Minister should have been holding a joint conference with this guy, instead of this guy holding a press conference solo at the British High Commission.

        This is the blasted foolishness that is pissing me off about the coalition, which continues to operate like a turtle seeking shelter and comfort in its shell, while shutting Guyanese out. We still don’t know anything about the audits.

        And SOCU is investigating 59 active cases of money laundering but it has no policy paper guiding its operations? I keep saying this is a calamitous coalition and it keeps confirming my opinion.

      • faoud khan

        Last week Ramjattan said a “policy document on the role of SOCU” would be made available some time this week, Well, there you have it from the financial expert in his press briefing at the British High Commission. Typical of Ramjattan, he got someone else to do his job for him as he is totally out of his depth as far as National Security goes. As Emile said, Ramjattan should have been hosting this press briefing with the expert but it is without doubt beyond Ramjattan’s ability to manage this basic of tasks. A cabinet reshuffle must happen to keep avoiding the embarrassing situations at Public Security and Legal Affairs.

  • Emile_Mervin

    ;(

  • Charles Selman

    Mother Sally,
    Not a bad idea.
    That kind of package will also keep the street criminals at bay. But with Presi’s instructions not to shoot violent criminals, the high tech capabilities will have to be holstered or unleashed on those who cannot shoot back.
    SOC it to U.
    Selman