SARA “disappointed” by opposition’s hypocrisy over anti-corruption walk

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, April 20, 2018

Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Dr. Clive Thomas has berated Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo for his party’s refusal to participate in the march against corruption; a move, he said, is contrary to something he had earlier signed on to.

The director’s statement was made in a letter to the opposition leader, responding to his party’s refusal to participate in the SARA’s “anti-corruption awareness campaign” which was held earlier today.

Director of SARA, Dr. Clive Thomas.

Dr. Thomas said it was absurd that the opposition leader would refuse to be part of the anti-corruption campaign when he, as president, had assented to Guyana becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008.

“Little, if anything, institutionally was done between 2008 and the mid-2010s to ensure “corruption is everybody’s business” until the SARA Act of April 4, 2017, just over a year ago,” Dr. Thomas said in the letter.

According to the SARA director, this took place despite the numerous annual reports over the last decade made by local, and external bodies including the United Nations Drugs and Crime Office, the US State Department and annual Transparency International. Those reports, he said, had depicted Guyana as one of the “most corrupt nations in the world”.

“This makes for perhaps, the unintended mockery of the comment in your letter that referenced a PPP/C Press Release of April 14, 2018, which claims the “APNU-AFC government can easily be classified as the most corrupt Government in the post-independent English-speaking Caribbean”, Dr. Thomas told the opposition leader.

He noted that the documents received from external Law Enforcement Agencies such as Interpol, Homeland Security and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) have shown the massive scale of corruption and money laundering during the late 2000s to the mid-2010s.

He said the opposition claims to be supportive of efforts that will “strengthen the state’s institutional, legal and procedural framework for fighting corruption in keeping with the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, the UN Convention Against Corruption and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

“We are therefore, greatly disappointed that, in light of this, the Leader of the Opposition is unwilling to participate in our “symbolic walk” with members of the diplomatic community, religious leaders, the private sector and several civil society organisations whom have agreed to support the March as symbolic of the fight against corruption and adherence to the international conventions mentioned above.”

Dr. Thomas explained that SARA is an independent autonomous agency established by the Parliamentary Act. He said the entity looks forward to reducing and eliminating corruption through public awareness efforts such as the first-ever “symbolic walk”.

“There will be many other public engagements with civil society, schools, ministries, the private sector, as well as religious and community organisations. The goal is to repel procurement fraud, stolen state assets, corruption so that, Guyanese of all walks of life, can be assured their roads, national patrimony, gold and other state assets are used for the betterment of all.”

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