Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan said yesterday that while he is satisfied with the work of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), there is room for improvement.
Ramjattan made these comments in response to questions from the media shortly after a press conference concerning the 41st Anniversary of the Community Policing Organization of Guyana (CPOG) had ended.
The unit was heavily criticized last month following the arrest of former president Bharrat Jagdeo, several former cabinet ministers and close affiliates, regarding their purchase of undervalued land at `Pradoville 2’. Though many were questioned and the matter dominated headlines for at least a week, no one has been charged and all SOCU head Sydney James would say is that the matter is still being investigated.
Asked about SOCU, Ramjattan said that he was “very satisfied” with the work the unit is doing but more needs to be done to improve its overall performance.
“I think that they need lots more fraud investigators and financial investigators. We are in the process of getting a couple more quality policemen there but it is not easy,” he said.
Ramjattan said the unit is currently overwhelmed given the amount of work that needs to be done with respect to the findings of forensic audits which were forwarded for criminal investigations to be conducted.
The unit is in possession of the reports for 18 forensic audits which had been ordered by the government. The organizations audited are the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, Cricket World Cup, the Sparendaam Housing Project (Pradoville 2), the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Guyana Power and Light Inc, Mahaica, Mahaicony, Abary-Agricultural Development Authority, Guyana Office for Investment, the Hydrometeorological Office, the National Communications Network (NCN), the Marriott Hotel, the Guyana Energy Agency, GuyOil, the Guyana Gold Board, the National Frequency Management Unit, the One Laptop Per Family project, the E-Governance Project and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. The audit reports have resulted in over 100 smaller investigations
“Too many investigations are being carried out but they [SOCU] are trying as best as possible,” Ramjattan stressed.
Asked when the public can see some of these investigations making their way to court, he said a “lot of them have already gone to the legal advisor …and it is for the legal advisors and the DPP to take it from there. If the DPP or legal advisor has asked for further statements to be taken well that probably will have to be done but as far as I am aware, a number are on the desk of the legal advisors,” he said.
James had told Stabroek News last month that his investigators were working around the clock to close the cases but stressed that it was not an easy task given the complexity of the matters.
James had said that there were about 86 separate investigations arising out of the NICIL audit and 45 out of the GRDB audit.
He explained that the challenge with these matters was that “people might think that if I say NICIL, it is one matter… [but] it has several investigations inside.”
On this occasion he had indicated that several files on the NICIL matter had been referred for legal advice.