Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is a unit of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and will always be under the control of the law enforcement agency.
The SOCU was established in 2013 as one of the recommendations outlined by the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) programme of activities to ensure Guyana’s compliance with international financial obligations.
SOCU is mandated to investigate suspected money laundering crimes, and to prosecute persons suspected of terrorism and financial offences.
Recently, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan told media operatives that SOCU should be allowed to assist the other police departments with investigations during their down time. However, Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General had noted, that the unit must not lose focus of its core functions in policing the new Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) system.
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall had expressed concern regarding what he described as “added protocols to the Unit’s operations”.
Minister Harmon said that, clearly there was a misconception by Nandlall about the statements made by both Ministers. “…The matter did come up at Cabinet and it was clear that there is no diversion, and that it is clear that SOCU is a unit under the Guyana Police Force,” Minister Harmon stressed.
On the issue of whether or not there was uncertainty regarding whether the unit should fall under the purview of the Ministry of Public Security or Ministry of Legal Affairs; Minister Harmon reiterated that the body falls under the ambit of the GPF.
“Minister Williams did say that SOCU will have a wider role as far as the Anti-Money Laundering Legislation is concerned, however it was never said that the unit must be under him (Minister Williams),” Harmon stressed. (GINA)