Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 22:04 by Denis Chabrol
Former Police Commissioner Leslie James has been asked to give investigators an account of how two members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and several other retired senior police officers had been hired for more than GYD$10 million to review the Guyana Police Force’s internal rules, police said.
Police Force spokesman, Mark Ramotar told reporters that the Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has so far failed to obtain a statement from Mr. James who recently retired from that law enforcement agency. “I spoke to SOCU Head just now….He said several attempts were made to get a statement from Mr. James…and even though he promised to give a statement, this was not done to date,” Mr. Ramotar said.
Among those questioned on Wednesday are PSC Commissioner Retired Assistant Commissioner Clifton Conway, Retired Assistant Commissioner Ivelaw Whittaker and Retired senior officer George Fraser. Police said that those detained on Wednesday have been released and are expected to appear in court on Thursday.
Sources said two officers from the Finance Department of the Police Force have been already charged with processing the payment.
Sources said the charges include conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in public office and sexual assault. The Guyana Police Force said when Mr. Slowe returns , he would be questioned by SOCU and the Gender Based Unit of that law enforcement agency.
Investigators alleged that a number of officers received more than GYD$10 million to review the Standing Orders of the Guyana Police Force although that had been already done by a consultant. However, sources said then Police Commissioner Leslie James had selected a review team to implement the recommendation by the consultant that the Standing Orders should be reviewed and amended.
The sources said Mr. James had decided on the amount of money to pay the review team but the work had not been completed due to the prolonged elections process that had dated back to the no-confidence motion. Further, police alleged that Messrs. Slowe and Conway are prohibited from receiving such payments being members of the PSC. Further, police said the provision of services for such a large amount of money ought to have been awarded by public tender.
“About eight of these officers, including Mr. Slowe, conspired together and gave themselves a job that clearly should have gone to the Tender Board by law because of the quantity.
In addition, Mr. Slowe and Retired Assistant Commissioner Clinton Conway– being members of the Police Service Commission, which overlooks the Police Force as the disciplinary body – cannot take contracts and enter into agreements that they are getting substantial monetary rewards for. They reportedly draw this money knowing that this work was completed,” the police force said.
Additionally, police alleged that Mr. Slowe had sexually assaulted a female officer who had been a member of the review team. “It is further alleged that during the months of March and April 2019, a female Assistant Superintendent, who worked along with Mr. Slowe, was allegedly sexually assaulted by Slowe three times. These alleged sexual assaults were reported to an Assistant Commissioner who failed to take proper action.
Meanwhile, the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) said it stood in solidarity with the retired police officers. The opposition said they were being targeted as part of a wider plot by the Irfaan Ali-led administration to dismantle the PSC, which is responsible for promotion and disciplinary action against officers, and stack it with political lackeys associated with the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP). “The PPP is clearly now attempting to tarnish their impeccable reputations and dismantle the professionally constituted PSC to install their cronies, who will in turn, do their bidding and promote pliant and favoured officers to the hierarchy of the Police Force,” the APNU+AFC.
The High Court will next Monday rule on whether the PSC could legitimately bypass officers for promotion on the basis of merely correspondence that they have pending disciplinary matters.