One year after it was legally established, the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) will be moving ahead with local and international court proceedings to recover State assets which were allegedly stolen by former government officials.
Director of the Agency Professor Dr Clive Thomas told reporters Friday afternoon that SARA will approach the courts in about five months to deal with at least ten specific cases.
“That’s a definite commitment that we’ve made and the cases are in the process of preparations,” Dr Thomas announced.
He explained that the stolen assets involved in overseas cases would need to be worth at least US$10M so it would be worthwhile for agencies to pursue it.
The SARA Act empowers the Agency to proceed with the recovery of assets worth more than GY$10M but the Director said that is “chicken feed” for Guyana’s international partners.
Professor Thomas said there are roughly 50 cases engaging SARA’s attention and that they involve assets such as cash and land.
He explained that SARA is only tasked with recovering the stolen assets and that it would be up to other agencies such as the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) or the Guyana Police Force to institute criminal charges against culpable individuals.
The SARA Director said the Agency only investigates cases when complaints or referrals are made from agencies such as SOCU, the Police or a Government Department.
Professor Thomas said the ordinary man can also make complaints but SARA needs to be careful in how they proceed with public allegations.
“We have to also be careful that people don’t make false accusations against others or try to seek to create mischief so we can’t take an allegation of theft as anything more than an allegation,” he explained.
SARA has launched its Anti-Corruption Campaign with a symbolic March Against Corruption under the theme “Fighting Corruption is Everybody’s Business”.
During a simple ceremony held at the corner of Camp and Lamaha Streets, officials from SARA and SOCU as well as youth and religious leaders delivered presentations underscoring the importance of fighting against corruption.