Seized ‘booty’ to fund SARU operations

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…intelligence, financial institutions to turn over info on request

The functions of the proposed controversial State Asset Recovery Unit (SARU) will be funded utilising monies seized as part of its operations and the proceeds of the sale of properties seized by the unit from persons believed to have acquired state property unlawfully.

The legislation meant to legitimise the operations of the Ministry of the Presidency Department, has proposed that the SARU Director be empowered to utilise the money seized as part of its operations, including paying compensation to victims who suffer losses as a result of an unlawful conduct.

According to the proposed legislation, there shall be established the recovery of state assets fund, for the purposes of receiving credits from civil recovery orders and payments made or debts recovered in relation to civil recovery orders made.

It stipulates too that there shall be deposited into the fund 25 per cent of all monies derived from the enforcement of a recovery order; the proceeds of sale of property which is the subject of an order and any income derived from the investment of any amount standing to the credit of the fund.

SARU Director, Dr Clive Thomas
SARU Director, Dr Clive Thomas

The Draft Bill – scheduled for a final round of consultation on August 11 – authorises the director of the outfit, a position currently held by vocal PPP/C critic, Professor Clive Thomas, to make payments out of the Recovery of State Assets Fund.

The legislation essentially empowers the SARU director to release funds accrued from the ‘seized booty’ to facilitate the discharge of its functions.

Meanwhile, as it relates to the sharing of information relative to SARU’s investigations, the legislation provides for formal requests to be made by the director to a number of statutory bodies, including Bank of Guyana.

Under the proposed legislation, the SARU director will be empowered to make official requests for information on persons under investigation from: the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); the Commissioner of Police; the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU); the Head of the Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU); the Chairman of the Integrity Commission; the Commissioner-General (GRA); the Governor of Bank of Guyana; the Head of the Central Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU); the Chairman of the Guyana Gold Board; the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board; and a Police officer not below the rank of an Inspector.

The information to be shared as envisaged by the proposed law relating to any unlawful conduct, tax or financial impropriety of any person, or any other relevant information that may assist the SARU director in discharging his functions.

(Guyana Times)

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