UK to hire another expert to assist SOCU
By Devina Samaroo
The British High Commission will fund another contract for an advisor to continue the work of assisting the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) in training and capacity building.
The Commission had funded the contract for Irish consultant, Dr Sam Sittlington who was in Guyana for two short periods to strengthen the operations of the white collar crime fighting institution.
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn on Thursday stated that efforts are already underway to hire another expert to stay for a longer term to further develop SOCU.
“There is a tendering process that needs to be undertaken until that person is appointed,” the diplomat explained.
Quinn estimated that the process should be finalized by November and that a new security expert would arrive in Guyana by 2018 to continue working with the financial crime fighting entity.
Following Dr Sittlington’s departure earlier this year, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had expressed a desire to have him return as he was pleased with the progress made. But the British High Commissioner explained that there is no guarantee that Dr Sittlington will return as it would depend on the tendering process and who submits proposals to come to Guyana.
Both the British High Commission and the Guyana government had come under harsh criticisms from the parliamentary opposition over the relationship between the Irish security expert, the Public Security Minister, and top officials of SOCU, including its head, Sydney James.
The Opposition had questioned the role of Dr Sittlington in Guyana and had argued that the advisor exceeded his official remit and trespassed into operational matters.
Compounding the suspicions of the Opposition was the fact that Dr Sittlington, Ramjattan and SOCU officials were sipping wine at a popular city café on the evening of the last day of arrests made against former top government officials including former President Bharrat Jagdeo. Ramjattan had told the media that the event was merely an occasion to bid Dr Sittlington farewell.