Size of theft, a major obstacle in fight against corruption – SARA Head

DPI, Guyana, Monday, January 29, 2018

Chairman of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) Dr. Clive Thomas said the size of theft remains a major obstacle in the entity’s fight against corruption in Guyana.

Speaking to the Department of Public Information (DPI) recently, Dr. Thomas said that situation means that a lot of people would have vested interest in the agency’s lack of success.

Head of State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) Dr. Clive Thomas.

He spoke of data emanating from the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) recently, which indicated that it already has money laundering cases totalling some $900 billion.

“If the amount of money laundering cases “top up” to over $900 billion, you can imagine how many persons are involved in the pillage of state assets, who are moving money around illegally and we have to put a stop to that,” Dr. Thomas told DPI.

Some of these include gold smuggling which according to a recent survey conducted by the United States showed that a significant amount of gold has been leaving Guyana weekly, based on the declarations made in North America.

Dr. Thomas said the entity continues to work with other agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and other financial institutions to tackle the scourge.

Dr. Thomas said all Guyanese should be concerned about the work of SARA as it seeks to recover assets stolen from the state. He said whatever assets are recovered will contribute towards the development of Guyana.

“What we are trying to do is put food in people’s mouth and produce funds for development. So, what we are aiming at is not to victimize people and make a political splash, but generate resources for future development.”

Dr. Thomas pointed out that the entity’s major accomplishment so far is the successful passage of the SARA Bill and the establishment of its office.

He said too that there is hope for a cleaner and more honest generation to work towards anti-corruption. SARA, Dr. Thomas informed, will be reaching out to schools to create a culture of resistance to the theft of state property.

Asked what has changed in the manner the government has dealt with the misappropriation of state assets, Dr. Thomas said the unit is now a legal body. He explained that he was once presidential advisor under the Ministry of the Presidency, however, the agency is now an independent body based on a law that was passed.

“This is law-based activity now and not just operations based on the department of the Ministry of the Presidency. So, when we make requests from the bank etc., it is official, and they are compelled to cooperate.”

 

By: Alexis Rodney

 

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