Police handwriting experts are poring over contracts from an IDB security programme to ascertain whether fake signatures were affixed.
The police have now opened a probe of allegations of fraud in the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Citizen Security Programme (CSP) . The allegations have further embarrassed the government, which is reeling from accusations of turning a blind eye to corruption. The IDB is undertaking its own probe.
Earlier this year, the IDB dispatched five contracts to the whistle blower/contractor in the matter for signature verification. The contracts were worth over $9.18 million.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud told Stabroek News on Wednesday that handwriting specialists are currently reviewing the various contracts. He said the Guyana Police Force was conducting its own investigation into the matter while the IDB simultaneously conducted its probe.
Persaud said that once the handwriting analysis came back, the police would be better equipped with how to proceed with the case.
The allegations that corruption may have occurred could be very damaging to the US$19 million IDB-funded project as one of its main functions was to inspire a sense of security at the community level.
The whistle blower, who originally alerted the IDB to possible fraud within the programme, told Stabroek News that so far the IDB has sent him over six contracts to verify signatures. He said that only one of the contracts carried an authentic signature while the rest were forged. An IDB team came to Guyana for eight days in June to collect information from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the whistle blower. The contractor who first alerted the IDB stated that prior to the visit the IDB requested copies of correspondence between himself and an official connected to the project.
The contractor stated that last July he decided to take steps to ensure that he could bid for CSP contracts and discovered that a joint bank account between himself and the official, which he thought was dormant, had been active.
He noted that over $7 million dollars had been credited and debited to the account which he had no knowledge of since the account was opened in March 2012. He was told by the local bank that all of the activity was done using his name. The contractor said he knew nothing about this. The contractor stated that he went to the official and was “compensated” in November for not going public. However he said that he only went to the IDB in January because he “was trying to figure it all out before I went to them”. This was his response when Stabroek News had asked why the IDB was not his first phone call after he discovered the suspicious activity.