UK awaits outcome of investigation into SOCU to determine way forward
The UK Government is awaiting the outcome of an investigation into allegations of corruption at the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) before it determines the way forward.
“We’d want to be sure of the outcome of that because fundamentally and alternately, whatever we are doing, we want to be doing with an organization that is operating the way it should be,” British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn said during an interview with the media Tuesday afternoon.
The UK Government is assisting SOCU to build its capacity under the Security Sector Reform (SSR) Project –lending assistance in the form of an Advisor, Dr. Sam Sittlington but he was fired in January after he opened his private business in Guyana.
This program is set to conclude in 2020 but the work has not been completed.
Quinn said the British Government is looking at whether it is feasible to hire another expert advisor since the program will come to an end shortly.
“We’re still at the stage where we’re trying to figure out, given the time scale we’re at, whether there would be any scope to bring anybody in this current program, in this current phase of the program, or whether we…look to a new program in some stage going forward,” the British High Commissioner explained.
He said there is certainly an expectation that requests will be made to continue work with SOCU beyond this project but either way, the UK would like to work with an agency which is operating without any infringement.
“I wouldn’t rule out that we will continue to work with SOCU going forward…it is important that SOCU is an agency and operates and does what it is meant to do,” Quinn said.
“We’ve worked with SOCU from the start in 2014.”
An audit of SOCU this year found backdated cheques, lack of receipts for various sums, forgery of signatures, irregular transactions, duplicated invoices and other fraudulent activities from 2016-2019.
President David Granger recently disclosed that the report is with the police legal advisor after which the Police Commissioner Leslie James will take action.
The audit was ordered by the Police Commissioner following claims of mismanagement of over $52M collected from the Public Security Ministry for operational costs.