Several arrested for ‘fraud’ at Housing Ministry, but “reckless” social media posts compromised months of investigation – Rodrigues 

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues

See full statement from Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water Susan Rodrigues:

Over the last few days on social media, there has been an avalanche of allegations leveled against employees of the Ministry of Housing and Water in relation to corrupt transactions. From the outset, the tenor of the posts immediately suggested that they would not end until the political heads of the Ministry were linked in some way to the allegations.

Yesterday, a member of my secretariat, Naresh Sugrim, was implicated in these social media posts. His photo was published, along with the allegation that he has been receiving bribes in exchange for land. Not a shred of evidence was provided, yet he was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.

Unbeknown to the public, on my instruction, Mr. Sugrim has been assisting the Guyana Police Force in an investigation to uncover solid evidence against staff members or outsiders who were suspected of conducting illegal transactions. Today, his efforts have led to the arrest of several persons. This will no doubt assist the police to further their investigations. Unfortunately, the reckless and vindictive postings on social media, which prove nothing, has compromised months of tedious investigative work which could have potentially led to more arrests.

I have always maintained that I am committed to rooting out corruption. In this regard, strident steps were taken to work with the Police to address this wherever it exists in the Ministry. Regrettably, members of the public continue to encourage the practice of offering bribes and willingly participate in these illegal transactions. When they lose their money without receiving the favours they expected, they take to social media to complain, instead of going to the police. There is little or nothing we can do with social media postings that bear no evidence.

Naresh Sugrim is a patriotic, hardworking, and diligent public servant who did not deserve to be defamed. I have advised him to take private legal action in this regard. It is my hope that this embarrassment does not discourage him, and other honest public servants, who do not engage in such illegalities.

Eliminating corruption from a Ministry that distributes land is a near impossible task, but we can reduce it significantly with help from law-abiding citizens. We cannot do it alone. I am therefore imploring the public to desist from participating in bribery. If you have any information or evidence that can lead to the arrest and conviction of staff members or anyone who claims to have contacts in the Ministry that can assist with land allocation in exchange for money, please report it to the Police or come to my office and I will contact the Police to facilitate a full investigation. Responding to social media posts that are engineered to create confusion and scandalise my reputation would be a colossal waste of my time. My only interest is in exposing the truth and ensuring people face consequences for corruption.

The resolve of the Ministry to discharge its mandate of serving the needs of the Guyanese public remains unshaken.