‘SOCU needs to focus on quality investigations’ – DPP’s Chambers

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The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) says it is reviewing for the second time a file sent by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) as it relates to an ongoing feud with the Guyana Bank for Trade Industry (GBTI) over the release of banking information.

The SOCU had recommended contempt charges against the Directors of the Bank after they failed to hand over details of transactions with the US dollar and other bank accounts of the state-controlled, Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), which is under investigation by SOCU.

In direct response to an article published on the front page of the Kaieteur News on Tuesday, headlined, “US$500M GBTI contempt charge… 3 weeks later, DPP still to pronounce on charges against her lawyer,” the DPP made it clear that the Chambers did not have the file for three weeks and advised SOCU to pay more attention to the quality of their investigations.

“SOCU needs to focus on doing quality investigations before sending files to these Chambers for legal advice because charges are based on evidence and not on wild recommendations.

Head of SOCU, Sydney James

“In doing quality investigations, they must obtain the relevant evidence in relation to the ingredients of the offences they are investigating,” a statement from the DPP’s office noted.

The statement further added, “After they have obtained the quality evidence, only then should a credible investigator recommend a charge.  Once all the evidence is there to support the offence/offences being investigated, charges are recommended.”

The DPP clarified that the first time the SOCU file in question was received at the DPP’s Chambers was on September 19, 2017, following which legal advice was given on September 21, 2017, for further investigations to be conducted.

“The file was booked out from these Chambers on the said September 21, 2017.”

The further investigations as required by these Chambers were conducted and SOCU returned the file to the Chambers on October 12, 2017, for further legal advice, where it is currently engaging the attention of the Chambers.

The Kaieteur News article had stated that the DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, is facing a major dilemma since she is being asked to pronounce on a case against her “own lawyer, Robin Stoby,” who happens to be the Chairman of GBTI.

However, in response to this, the statement noted: “The DPP is not facing any major dilemma in this matter. This file will be treated like all other files and advice will be given based on the evidence contained in the file and the relevant law thereto as is done in all files. The DPP has a constitutional mandate under which the work is done at the Office.

The DPP concluded the statement by noting that the Criminal Justice System is receiving assistance from the Governments of Canada and the USA through the Justice Education Society (JES), which is focused on ensuring there are quality investigations done and completed before charges are instituted.

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