SARU soon to get legislative basis – AG

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…says World Bank wrapping up review

Legislations will soon be enacted to govern the operations of the controversial State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), which was established by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration to hunt for assets that initially belonged to the State but are now in the hands of private individuals.

Though without legal authority, SARU has been deeply involved in its operations which included investigations into alleged incidents of corruption and making recommendations for charges to be laid accordingly.

During an interview with media operatives on Wednesday, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams said the draft legislation is currently with the World Bank for review.

Attorney General Basil Williams

Attorney General Basil Williams

 Economist, Dr Clive Thomas

Economist, Dr Clive Thomas

“It is almost out of the pipelines,” he said.

A team of specialists from the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) had agreed to assist SARU in its operations. StAR is a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds.

StAR works with developing countries and financial centres to prevent laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of such assets.

According to the Attorney General, the international body is currently concluding its examination of the draft bill. While he could not pronounce on a timeframe, Williams said the legislation will be effected soon.

So far, SARU, which is headed by renowned Economist, Dr Clive Thomas, has recommended that the relevant authority consider laying charges against several People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo, over allegations they were all involved in obtaining State lands at an undervalued market price.

The Unit has also dealt with controversial matters including the National Industrial Commercial and Investment Limited (NICIL) case; BaiShanLin case; among others.

Reports indicate that once the legislation is passed, SARU will be renamed the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA).

 

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