SARA identifies 10 cases to begin recovering state assets

[fruitful_sep]DPI, GUYANA, Friday, April 20, 2018

The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) will begin recovery proceedings for 10 cases later this year.

Director of SARA, Dr. Clive Thomas told local media that the agency is in the process of reviewing “well over 50 to 60” cases for the recovery of state assets. “Beginning at the start of the third quarter, we are hoping to focus on about 10,” Dr. Thomas noted.

Director of SARA, Dr. Clive Thomas.

The SARA head was speaking following the commencement of a walk against corruption organised by the agency today.

Dr. Thomas noted that SARA had committed to begin court actions by the fourth quarter of this year. However, he explained the 10 cases will have an early start since it is likely these proceedings for these cases will be in foreign jurisdictions.

“We are hoping to focus on about 10 because part of the international commitment we have depends on the value of the cases and we have to meet a certain target value. They have to be above a certain figure for the cases to proceed overseas; to make it worthwhile for the agencies to proceed with the cases.”

The State Assets Recovery Act of 2017 makes provision for SARA to pursue international cases valued more than $10M Dr. Thomas noted. “So, we have to get cases that will at least be asking the courts overseas to deal with at least $10M US.”

The cases that are being reviewed by SARA are based on complaints and referrals. “There is no single case that we have ever pursued that has not been referred to us either by another criminal agency … or a government department,” Dr. Thomas noted.

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Office and the Guyana Police Force were identified by Dr. Thomas, as agencies that have made referrals to SARA for it recover state assets.

SOCU is criminally investigating some 300 cases including the infamous Pradoville 2 scheme. More recently, the Unit brought criminal charges against the former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and former Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL)/ Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington, for illegally selling three plots of land for over GY$900M.

Dr. Thomas explained that SARA will soon launch its own website to facilitate reports of alleged unlawful conduct. He explained the website will carefully outline, “the procedure that we will adopt for deciding whether or not to pursue these cases and how we will pursue them”. The procedure is to guard against false accusations or attempts to “create mischief”.

SARA is enabled to investigate, trace, identify and recover unlawfully obtained state properties from a public official or other persons, wherever in the world it is located, through civil proceedings. The agency is not authorised to bring criminal proceedings in such cases.

By: Tiffny Rhodius

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