UK expert concerned recommendations not implemented improve SOCU

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By Devina Samaroo

With over 300 cases to be investigated, United Kingdom (UK) Adviser Dr. Sam Sittlington has returned to Guyana to assist the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) with its work.

However, during an engagement with the press on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, the financial crimes expert expressed disappointment that several of the recommendations he made since he was last here has not been implemented.

“There’s a number of recommendations I made last year which although approved have not yet been implemented,” the UK expert stated

Dr. Sittlington said he had recommended that the Police Legal Advisor be assisted by the special prosecutors to help fast-track the process.

He also advised that SOCU hire an in-house lawyer.

“The five special prosecutors that we have also have private practices so they are conflicted between two different areas. Ideally, we want one good lawyer in SOCU who can work with the cases … they can finalise a case before it goes to PLA (Police Legal Advisor) or DPP (Director of Public Prosecution) to try to quicken that actual process of getting that case to court,” he stated.

Dr. Sittlington noted too that in some cases, the Special Prosecutors, the PLA and the DPP will have differing views on the same case and this clash causes some setbacks.

He has undertaken to meet with the individuals with the aim of working out how to move forward expeditiously when such a situation takes place.

Dr. Sittlington disclosed that SOCU is currently inundated with 26 forensic audit cases.

He noted that only four of these audits have resulted in court procedures amounting to some $116B.

The remaining 22 audits, he said, total a remarkable $170B.

Dr. Sittlington explained that 26 audits could result in over 300 cases as a single audit report contain multiple information that can trigger a number of different probes.

In addition, he disclosed that SOCU is also dealing with 39 referrals from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) but only two cases made it to the court.

Dr. Sittlington said he continues to provide advice and share knowledge of best practices worldwide in dealing with cases of this nature to help strengthen the operational and investigative ability of SOCU.

The former law enforcement officer said he will ardently execute his mandate as provided in his terms of reference with the British Government despite the criticisms which have been made by the political opposition.

He noted that there is no way he or the British High Commission can guard against the politicizing of the case but he expressed confidence in the public to understand that at the end of the day, the evidence will speak for itself.

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