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OPINION: Massive scale of corruption and money laundering will have surprises

by GHK Lall

Professor Clive Thomas, Head of SARA, went public to point out that international documents show the “massive scale of corruption and money laundering” in once cash choked Guyana (Demerara Waves April 20).  It has been a long hard road to arrive at this ugly well-known place, which made many locals impatient and doubtful.  This was further fueled by the defiant snarls of “show the evidence.”  I, who should have known better, must confess to my own occasional misgivings; and this despite being privy to some names, documents, and circumstances way back over there.  Well, many who made an art form of existing in wicked darkness now will be hauled into the cleansing light of day.

All the evaders and the dismissive, the pretended pure and innocent, and the strident protesters and deniers (and those who granted them succor and comfort) will soon be exposed in a rogues’ gallery of con artists, launderers, and dirty entrepreneurs and enterprises.  Change is coming; change is here.  The stories are sure to be simple and similar and lead to one place: where did all of this money come from?  But that is already known and irrefutably so.  It would be interesting to hear the stories of the pantheon of perpetrators as they face the music.  It is the wail of Chopin’s Funeral March.  Lots of citizens were laid low during that criminal era; it is time that the chiefs are too.

From close prior proximity I know that these sweeping investigative efforts can be painstaking and problematic and take years to reach the stage where matters are currently.  They can be difficult and frustrating, given all the intricate maneuvers and layers designed to conceal and mislead, to lead nowhere.  Things were no different with the local wise guys.  Still, there has been difficulty managing dismay with the passage of time and lack of developments; and especially when those contaminated figures preened and pranced around unconcernedly, if not brazenly.

This would be worth the wait.  Quite a few of the players about to be named and collared will not surprise; on the other hand, there will be some doing the perp walk, who were previously thought to be righteous.  One has to wonder about the cover stories of friends, associates, and protectors.  I wonder what kind of witch-hunt the pending harvesting season will be labeled.  For close to two decades, the foreign people raised polite alarms; they were insulted first, and then steamrollered from many corners and high elevations.  They bided their time and gathered the clues.  If the roads were traced to the source, then Guyana could have its own Pinochet precedence.  The shoe that kicked is going to be on the other foot soon.  I can see cannonballs and hear clanking chains.  The prediction is a spectacle in the media and court systems for years to come.  The former should be salivating at the rich feasts in the works.  Move over oil.  But there is a problem brewing in the media: what to do, how to cover friends, and friends of friends?  Some may even have been joint venture partners.  It must be remembered that nothing remains a secret in this country for long; and as the good professor said for the record “massive scale.”  That is sure going to cast a wide net and trap a whole lot of masquerading folks.

Those who had started to operate a shade less openly and gone into financial hiding are soon going to have to start running.  There is yet another question that arises: to where?  With visas revoked and blacklists blotting out the friendly skies, there is only Latin America and the sands of the Sahara, including the gentrified neighborhoods.  Having been once free and wild and wooly, nobody desires those harsh volatile resorts.  They lack political ambience.

So, as that old saying goes, lies are like chickens, they always come home to roost.Things come down to this simple formula: do the crime, do the time.  There were lots of unimaginable crimes committed here that savaged a poor trusting people; may the guilty be blessed with a lifetime of correction to pay back the damage done to this society.  As Sam Cook so hauntingly crooned, “Its been a long long time coming, but I know change gonna come. Oh yes, it will.”  That time is here.