State Access Recovery Agency (SARA) says that they do not initiate investigations without receiving a formal complaint, in keeping with the SARA Act of 2017.
This statement was made, by Director of the Agency Professor Clive Thomas, in response to a letter sent to the entity by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, on behalf of Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo earlier this week, where he declined to participate in the “symbolic walk” against corruption slated for later today.
SARA had earlier sent a invitation for the Opposition Leader to participate in the walk.
In Teixeira’s response to that invitation, it was outlined that the political Opposition would not participate in such a walk “while members and other public officials of successive PPP/C governments have been discriminated against, victimized, and targeted by a state-sponsored witch-hunt on frivolous, manufactured charges.”
In addition to highlighting instances of, what the PPP outlines as, ‘blatant corruption’ under the incumbent Administration, the letter directed to Thomas posited that “the passage of the SARA Act has given you, sir, enormous, in fact, super powers —something we abhor as it is in total contravention to human rights and due process- but sir you have those powers so why have you taken no action as a so-called anti-corruption champion to bring members of the present government to book? As they say clean your own house so that others can see the light and know you are serious about fighting corruption!”
However, today, in his own letter, Thomas defended that “contrary to popular political belief, SARA does not and cannot initiate investigations without first receiving a complaint such as yours, in keeping with international best practices processes designed to ensure transparency, fairness and legal appropriateness.”
“ Our Agency, as you are also aware, is governed by the SARA Act of 2017 …SARA does not and cannot pursue criminal cases or put individuals in jail. This is the purview of SOCU, the DPP, and the Guyana Police Force. SARA’s mandate is to recover State assets through civil recovery and not through criminal recovery…As I am sure you are aware, SARA is also not allowed to pursue “unexplained wealth” this is the purview of other law enforcement groups,” Thomas said.
In Teixeira’s letter, it was outlined that while the Opposition leader is supportive of any efforts that will strengthen the state’s institutional, legal and procedural framework for fighting corruption, he would not be participating in the “symbolic” walk since “it is a mere smoke screen to detract from the grossest violations of the constitutional and statutory provisions regarding financial probity, transparency and accountability ever witnessed since independence.”