AG admits “SOCU is a mess”

Attorney General Basil Williams

Guyana’s Attorney General Basil Williams has admitted that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), under his watch, has been a mess, from failing to carry out successful investigations to failed prosecutions.

He also expressed disappointment in the Unit’s ineffectiveness since it was established.
He made these comments at a Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML&TF) National Risk Assessment Seminar on Thursday at the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston Georgetown.

“One of the things we have to deal with is the question of investigations, prosecutions and convictions for money laundering offences, which I believe from 2015 to now, we haven’t had any, not one…

“We’ve seen the evaluation of all [of] the countries and they[‘ve] all fail[ed]. Some of them have hundreds and they still are not effective depending on the nature of economies but we haven’t had any; it’s remarkable and we have to look at that because that’s a gaping wound in the AML/CFT side…

“You’ve mentioned that you’ve increased some employment in SOCU.

“SOCU is a mess, so we have to reorganise SOCU and we have to make it effective,” the Attorney General stated.

SOCU has been under fire for some time now with several allegations of corruption and mismanagement being made against it by persons it would have investigated and had business dealings with.

Earlier this year, a forensic audit into SOCU’s operations was launched by the Guyana Police Force (GPF). The audit found cases of falsified invoices bearing forged signatures.

Other irregularities that were unearthed include falsified records as well as missing documents. There were also reports of listed expenditure being concocted and receipts being backdated.

Recently, a Police investigation was launched against Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James, the former Head of SOCU, following recommendations from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers.