Termination, transfer of SOCU officials needed – Ramjattan

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The termination and transfer of officials attached to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) will be required, in light of the damning findings of fraud and mismanagement at the white-collar crime fighting agency.

This is according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, the first government official to make definitive pronouncements on the issue since the findings were reported on last month.

A police audit into SOCU’s operations discovered that there were many instances of fraud and financial irregularities.

“Certainly [there] will have to be shifting around, probably some terminations too,” Ramjattan told reporters during a press conference today.

But he noted that the decision is ultimately up to the Police Commissioner, Leslie James.

“The Commissioner is the Head of SOCU as you know… Operational matters, a Minister must not indulge in. And that is an operational matter,” the Minister explained, noting that the Top Cop has assured that action will be taken.

“I have seen the report. It is not a very nice report and the Commissioner has told me that he is going to take action,” Ramjattan said, adding that “I am hoping that it will be action taken very early.”

An audit of SOCU, which is a branch of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), was ordered the Police Commissioner in February following claims of grave mismanagement, which included the misuse of its operational fund.

SOCU, which had been initially set up to probe financial crimes and strengthen the country’s anti-money laundering architecture, had not been audited since its establishment in 2014.

The Unit had been engaged in major high-profile probes of former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government officials. The findings of the audit would be seen as a major embarrassment for the current Government.

SOCU has already had several of its cases tossed out of the window by the courts, including a number of charges against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) executives and Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) Directors.

In light of these revelations of widespread fraud and financial irregularities within SOCU, the PPP had called for the Unit to be closed down.

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