Investigators have already gathered considerable evidence to build strong cases against those identified as culpable in a number of State–sponsored forensic audits.
This is according to UK-based financial crime consultant, Dr Sam Sittlington, who has been providing advice to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) in relation to the investigations launched in flagged corrupt practices as highlighted in the forensic audits.
Speaking to media operatives on Wednesday, the financial crime expert explained that significant evidence has already been collected for a number of the cases but the process of gathering information to use in the courts is still ongoing.
He was alluding to the cases of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
Dr Sittlington explained that the forensic audits are not substantial or compelling enough to use in the courts.
He said that was the essence behind the recent raid at the GRDB, where SOCU officers went to collect certain documents which contained critical data to be used as evidence.
“Because the audit was produced with the documentation, we had to gather the same documentation as evidence under a legal process,” he said.
According to Dr Sittlington, he would not “underestimate the size of the case, it is a massive case.”
He also disclosed that substantial evidence has been gathered for NICIL but he declined to comment further on the matters as they are currently under investigation.
Meanwhile, the financial crime expert noted that SOCU has the skill set needed to lead successful cases but the manpower is lacking.
“(There is) only a small number of skilled officers, the new officers that come in have to be trained as well, so it is a matter of prioritising tasks” he explained.
The audit into the GRDB was ordered by Government in June 2015 and was undertaken by the auditing firm of Nigel Hinds and Associates. The action was taken after it was discovered that $100 million was allegedly loaned to the Guyana Rice Producers Association. The controversial loan, which remains outstanding, has been described by Minister Jaipaul Sharma as “ad hoc” and purportedly signed with the understanding that the loan would have been repaid in October 2014.
Government spokesperson Raphael Trotman also said the audit report indicated that via to the PetroCaribe Fund, the financial vehicle which saw millions of dollars passing through the accounting unit of the GRDB, there were “glaring” financial irregularities which were uncovered by the auditors with “no traceable signs that these were ever approved”, minus promissory notes in some instances. (Guyana Times)