Former SOCU Head being probed over missing gold, cash

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Embattled Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James, the former Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), is now under further Police investigation following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chambers.

This was confirmed by acting Crime Chief Michael Kingston on Wednesday. Kingston explained that the file pertaining to James had been sent to DPP Senior Counsel Shalimar Ali-Hack by the Police some time ago.

Kingston noted that the Police have, as a consequence, been asked to do some more investigations. While Kingston was tight-lipped on the details of the investigation, reports indicate that it may pertain to money and gold that were previously confiscated and went missing while in SOCU’s possession.

The unit has been in the hot seat for some time with allegations being made against it by persons it would have investigated or had business dealings. In the case of investigations, last year, the High Court had ordered the entity to return millions of dollars’ worth of cash and jewellery to a gold dealer plus costs after the unit seized the items and failed to charge the individual.

SOCU officials had also faced accusations regarding falsified invoices which had borne forged signatures. This was unearthed after a forensic audit was launched by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) into SOCU’s operations earlier this year.

Other irregularities that were unearthed had included falsified records and missing documents. According to reports, there was even a case of an official who alleged his signature was forged. In addition, there are reports of listed expenditure being concocted and receipts being backdated.

The probe into the operations of the white-collar crime-fighting Unit was triggered when the former British adviser to SOCU, Dr Sam Sittlington, made a number of startling allegations against the Unit.

Following the allegations, James was subjected to questioning over allegations of improper spending, as part of the investigation and audit which stemmed after the termination of the British adviser.

James was eventually sent on leave by the Government to facilitate investigations and an acting Head of SOCU, Althea Padmore, was appointed.