Almost eight months after Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan had approached the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, to have British fraud expert Dr Sam Sittlington return to Guyana to resume the work he started at the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), the request, it seems, has now been granted.
Based on a press advisory issued on Friday, there is expected to be a special event hosted at the British High Commissioner’s residence next Tuesday (January 9, 2018) to introduce Sittlington as a Financial Investigations Mentor/Advisor to SOCU.
During the early part of 2017, SOCU had detained several former prominent Government officials, including former President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, former Ministers Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali, Clement Rohee, Robert Persaud and Jennifer Westford, among others in connection with their role in the Pradoville 2 Housing scheme.
The reason behind them being questioned was because they had purchased property at the Sparendaam seawall area, commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.
The current Administration contended that the transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that the properties were sold below market value.
However, the former government Ministers from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) had argued that subsidised housing has always been a part of the legacy of the PPP/C and that countless Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value.
At the time, Sittlington was a part of SOCU, and the Opposition had begun to question his role within the agency, accusing him of being one of the persons involved in the “witch hunt”.
They had argued that he “exceeded his official remit and trespassed into operational matters at SOCU.”
These accusations were made after it was revealed that Ramjattan and Sittlington were seen sharing “celebratory drinks” at the Oasis Café some days after the several arrests were made.
However, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn had said that Dr Sittlington was in Guyana serving in an advisory and training capacity at SOCU and not in an operational role.
Following the fraud expert’s departure, Ramjattan said the main reason for him wanting Sittlington to return was because he played a pivotal role in helping the SOCU officials to strategize. (Ramona Luthi)