Public consultation on Thursday to seek input for draft State Assets Recovery Bill

Georgetown, GINA, August 10, 2016

The State Assets Recovery Bill is viewed as vital “in the war against corruption by state and public officials”. Due to its significance, the Ministry of Legal Affairs will hold a public consultation on the draft Bill on Thursday at the Pegasus Hotel.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams said he does not foresee “any complexity in the Bill” during the stakeholders’ consultation.

At a press briefing today, at the AG’s chambers, Carmichael Street, Williams said that representatives from the World Bank, the United Nations, the United States of America, local stakeholders and the general public will be present at the consultation.

Director of the States Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), Dr Clive Thomas will be making remarks on the Bill while Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Cecil Dhurjon will provide an overview of it.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams

“The bill obviously is designed to target the mischief of pillaging state resources and the pillaging of state resources by public officers past and present,” AG Williams had told the Government Information Agency (GINA) prior.

The Bill is also designed to create the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) which will be headed by a director, AG Williams added.

The establishment of a Recovery of State Assets Fund is a “hallmark” of the Bill, Williams noted. “Assets recovered will go into that fund,” the AG said. Monies from the fund will then be disbursed in relation to the operations of SARA, Williams added.

The Bill has six parts including provisions that empower SARU’s Director to request information. AG Williams had noted that since its instalment last year, SARU has had difficulty accessing information during its investigations. “This bill now would empower them to receive such information,” said Williams.

The Bill also “facilitates the director with powers to reach money, not only in Guyana but to trace money wherever it is, in any part of the world,” Williams added.

The draft State Assets Recovery Bill is available on the Ministry of Legal Affairs’ website and “the provisions of the bill are quite clear”. It has been developed in consonance with the United Nations Street Convention Against Corruption. The Ministry also sought the input of the World Bank and British expert, Brian Horne in the drafting of the bill.

The State Assets Recovery Bill is a civil and non-conviction based regime. “We just look for civil recovery orders, protection, restrictions…and the like,” the Attorney General explained. The discretion to seek criminal recourse would rest with the Director of SARA.