Guyana urged to up the fight against corruption
GUYANA, GINA, Wednesday, February 8, 2017
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, today noted that the Guyana Government is taking the right steps to recover the “ill-gotten gains” from those guilty of illegal activities.
The High Commissioner was at the time speaking at the opening of the Anti- Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Seminar, at the Police Officers Training Centre, Camp Road, Eve Leary.
The seminar was also attended by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC, and Financial Crime Expert, Dr. Sam Sittlingtom.
High Commissioner, Quinn said he believes corruption and money laundering are still problems in Guyana that should not to be ignored. He note that too many persons believe that they can get away with corruption.
Quinn noted that while Guyana improved its position on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index in 2016, there is still work to be done as Guyana did not achieve its set target of number 43 on the index.
“If Guyana is to continue to grow and to use future resources for the betterment of all, it will be necessary to address both these issues,” the British High Commissioner said.
The Attorney General in his presentation noted that the government has a zero-tolerance approach to corruption in all its forms. He said that
activities such as money laundering, misappropriation of public properties, bribery, embezzlement and malfeasance of public office, are all by products of corruption.
According to the Attorney General, such activities hinder economic growth, deters investment by both local and foreign investors, undermines public confidence and leads to less participation by members of society.
The Attorney General pointed out that while Guyana already has legislation in place to counter corruption including the Integrity Commission Act CAP 6:01 and the Access to Information Act 2001, that enable citizens to hold public officials accountable, more still needs to be done.
Williams S.C. said that the State Asset Recovery Bill which will be debated in the National Assembly “demonstrates Guyana’s commitment to our international obligation under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”
Providing that the Bill is successfully passed in the National Assembly, Minister Williams noted that it would lead to the establishment of the State Assets Recovery Authority. The authority, according to Minister Williams would be enabled to investigate, trace and identify state assets attained as a result of corruption.
The minister called for the cooperation of all stakeholders and alluded to the appointment of six prosecutors who would be working in collaboration with the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Office on high profile cases. Williams S.C. said this will “enhance the government’s capacity to secure successful conviction.”
The minister noted that successful conviction will require cooperation between anti-corruption agencies, commissions and units.
Minister Williams expressed optimism that the seminar would foster a sense of integrity among those in attendance including Immigration Officers, Police Officers, Investigators and other professionals attached to the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).
Financial Crime Expert, Dr. Sam Sittlingtom, highlighted the need for going after persons guilty of corrupt acts regardless of their status in society. Dr. Sittlingtom pointed to several cases in Ireland and how investigators were able to prosecute money launderers.
Dr. Sittlingtom pointed out that one of the challenges he faced throughout his career as a Financial Crime Investigator is the lack of cooperation. “When I see someone denying giving that information or obstruction or passing of that information, or ignoring correspondents, we have to get suspicious about that,” Dr. Sittlingtom stated.
Dr. Sittlingtom also stressed the need for ooperation. “We have to cooperate if we want to be successful. We have to cooperate with each other,” the financial crime expert emphasised.
The one day seminar is expected to hear from Retired Major, Aubrey Retemyer, International Financial Advisor, Ian McDonald and Special Advisor to the Attoney- General, Tessa Oudkerk.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite