Criticisms against me like ‘water on the duck’s back,’ says SOCU Advisor

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The United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) Advisor/Mentor, Dr Sam Sittlington, on Tuesday expressed minimal concern over the criticisms levied against the role played by the Advisor in the Crime Unit.

Dr Sam Sittlington

Speaking to media operatives, Sittlington asserted that his “track record” should be enough to ease the negative criticisms.

“I rely on the public to see through any undermining of me. I have a track record, it speaks for itself and you now if someone is convicted and sent to prison, the first thing they say to the prison guard is I didn’t do it. So the evidence there will speak for itself. Criticism against me, I used to have broad shoulders, they’re not broad anymore, for me, it’s water on the duck’s back,” he said.

At his defence, as well, was the UK High Commissioner to Guyana, who posited that the only ones who can politicise about Sittlington’s actions in his capacity of the SOCU Advisor are the politicians. He further noted that the Terms of Reference (Tor) have clearly outlined the advisor’s responsibilities, which he reiterated are not operational.

“For me, it’s up to the politicians to decide whether or not they politicise what Sam is doing and what we’re doing here. The terms of reference are very clear as to what he will be doing and there is nothing in there, I think, which would justify claims of his interference, direction and whatever and as Sam said, ultimately, the decisions will not be taken by him, it will be taken by the rule of law , by the process of law here,” he explained.

Quin also asserted that the truth will left to be determined by the people of Guyana.

“All we can do here is say that he is here to provide advice, guidance and mentoring to a fundamental part of Guyana’s ability to [prevent] anti money laundering and the financing of terror activities and everything he is doing is based on addressing that concern,” he said.

Last week, Sittlington’s arrival was announced via a media advisory sent out by the Office of the British High Commissioner to Guyana.

This was almost eight months after Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan had approached the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, to have British fraud expert Sam Sittlington return to Guyana to resume the work he started at the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

During the early part of 2017, SOCU had detained several former prominent Government officials, including former President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, former Ministers Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali, Clement Rohee, Robert Persaud and Jennifer Westford, among others in connection with their role in the Pradoville 2 Housing scheme.

The reason behind them being questioned was because they had purchased property at the Sparendaam seawall area, commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.

The current Administration contended that the transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that the properties were sold below market value.

However, the former government Ministers from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) had argued that subsidised housing has always been a part of the legacy of the PPP/C and that countless Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value.

At the time, Sittlington was a part of SOCU, and the Opposition had begun to question his role within the agency, accusing him of being one of the persons involved in the “witch hunt”.

They had argued that he “exceeded his official remit and trespassed into operational matters at SOCU.”

These accusations were made after it was revealed that Ramjattan and Sittlington were seen sharing “celebratory drinks” at the Oasis Café some days after the several arrests were made. (Ramona Luthi)

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