GBTI’s refusal to cooperate with SOCU has international implication for country – Dr. Sittlington
DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Doctor Sam Sittlington was reintroduced as Financial Investigations Mentor and Advisor to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) at a media briefing held by British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn, at his residence today.
At the briefing, the Financial Investigations Advisor Dr. Sittlington said the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry’s (GBTI) refusal to cooperate with SOCU can have long-reaching implications for the country’s financial sector.
“It’s not a unique problem to Guyana and it’s being addressed in other countries… this is a very serious problem for Guyana that has serious consequences on the Central Bank of Guyana because the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) the Mutual Evaluations will mark Guyana down for non-cooperation, particularly in the financial structure,” Sittlington said.
In addition, the financial tzar said the banks are all obligated to provide information on suspicious transactions.
“It is an obligation of the bank to provide information related to suspicious transaction reports (STRs) suspicions of money laundering, of drug trafficking and they make those reports to the FIU… The Financial Action Task Force recommendations, which all other 49 countries have enacted in their legislations obliges banks and financial institutions to make those reports. If you don’t make those reports you then stand the potential to be prosecuted for failing to make a disclosure, which in the UK (United Kingdom) is five years in prison,” the Financial Advisor explained.
Against the backdrop of a US$500M probe currently underway against the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), SOCU, has placed before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, GBTI’s chairman and directors to answer contempt charges, stemming from their initial failure to comply with the Unit order for production of the documents needed for the probe.
The GRDB is a customer of the bank. However, GBTI has maintained that it has already handed over more than 11 thousand documents, with the exception of 12 outstanding letters. SOCU has, however, argued that this is not the case and that there are more still outstanding.
Further, Sittlington emphasised the importance of the opposition and all other stakeholders collaborating to eliminate financial crimes.
“We are all in this together. We all have to work together for the good of Guyana. This is about crime and money laundering which is international and the tax authorities, the customs authorities, the airports, law enforcement and even the press with media coverage, to make the public aware that SOCU is here trying to help. They need to support. I am not here just to talk to the government. I can talk to everyone if it’s for the good of law enforcement,” he explained.
Dr. Sittlington’s current contract is funded by the British High Commission and is designed as a follow up to his work with SOCU which began in 2016. This tour of duty will be undertaken in six-week stints until March 2020.
By: Kidackie Amsterdam
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