First Anti-Corruption training seminar begins for leading security agencies

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, April 9, 2018

Over the next two weeks, members of the lead security agencies will undergo intense training in the areas of fraud, anti-corruption, and bribery, as the first Financial Investigation and Anti-Corruption training seminar got underway today.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, S.C.

The training is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) through the Special Adviser attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Dr. Sam Sittlington.

British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn, speaking at the formal opening, said there is no place for corruption within Guyana’s security agencies.

“If officials or individuals cannot work with honesty and integrity, then they should be drummed out, prosecuted and imprisoned as necessary.”

High Commissioner Quinn said that if security agencies expect respect and cooperation from the public, they must operate within the confines of the law, “if people don’t like the sound of that, then frankly, tough!”

The UK’s commitment to assist Guyana in security sector reform was reiterated by the High Commissioner, who noted that the hosting of the seminar is the latest example of this commitment, which builds on what has already been accomplished under British expert on crime and security Colonel Russell Combe.

The colonel announced that he will be returning to Guyana sometime this week to serve as Senior Security Sector Reform Advisor to President David Granger for one year.

Meantime, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, S.C, said the Government, since assuming office, has been tackling corruption at all levels, pursuant to the findings of several forensic audits.

“From the outset of our government we declared war against corruption …and financial crimes were added to the remit of Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), whose primary responsibility is combatting money-laundering, terrorist financing and now proliferation financing.”

The forensic audits, he noted, have led to many criminal investigations for fraud and purloining of state assets.

However, the Attorney General said financial crimes investigatory framework requires greater capacity building, financial, prosecutorial and judicial expertise.

British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn.

Reference was made to the most recent Auditor General’s report which pointed to “the scale of overpay by public officials to contractors, which is but one of the nefarious devices deployed to rob the government of billions of dollars.”

The minister said that “I can venture without any fear of successful contradiction that since we entered into government we have not experienced any case of the scale of those that we have inherited and revealed under those forensic audits.”

Corruption, Minister Williams said, tramples on the socio-economic rights of citizens, ultimately eroding the moral fabric of society and adversely affects the integrity of the government and national security agencies.

The need for this type of training was emphasised in light of the fact that Guyana is on the cusp of great transformation with the oil and gas sector and Government’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).

The government, through the Legal Affairs Ministry, has been conducting Anti-Corruption Sensitisation Seminars across the ten administrative regions, which the AG reported have had a significant impact on cases of misappropriation of funds.

The Attorney General said corruption must be exposed and the anti-corruption laws enforced.

Fourteen officers from SOCU, nine from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), two from Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), one from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and four from the State Assets Recovery Authority (SARA) will benefit from the training.

Two UK experts, with 60 years of combined experience in the handling of anti-money laundering and fraud cases, are conducting the sessions.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Police Commissioner (ag), David Ramnarine were also in attendance.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

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