Teixeira warns against political interference in SOCU’s probe of multimillion-dollar contract

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The decision of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) to inform the Minister of Public Security of a private request for a probe into suspected corruption against the Government has raised some concerns for Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.

On August 15, 2018, the Opposition Parliamentarian wrote the Head of SOCU, Sydney James informing him of a report by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) which found that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure violated procurement laws in the award of a multimillion-dollar contract for a feasibility study on the new Demerara River Bridge.

She suggested that an investigation is launched in this case of suspected corruption. SOCU subsequently responded to say that “the matter is now engaging the attention of the Guyana Police Force.”

The crime fighting unit said the Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan along with acting Commission of Police, David Ramnarine and the police’s legal advisor have been apprised of her request for a probe.

Saying she is happy at the prompt response, Teixeira expressed concerns that her complaint is being sent to the subject minister.

“I find it unusual that the request was also sent to the Minister of Public Security. Usually, investigations of this nature are not forwarded to a Minister, it goes through an investigative process…,” said Teixeira, who was once Minister of Home Affairs.

She nonetheless expressed hope that there be no political interference in the investigation.

“Hopefully SOCU will take this seriously and move forward. I believe that the findings are very serious and could lead to serious charges,” she stated.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had previously indicated that this matter will put the independence of SOCU to the test.

The PPC found that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure breached procurement rules in awarding Dutch firm LievenseCSO a contract to do a feasibility study for the new Demerara River Bridge crossing.

The Ministry has, however, denied any wrongdoings and has justified the award of the contract to LievenseCSO.

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