UN advisor to spearhead anti-corruption project here

From left are: Sydney James, Head of SOCU; British anti-corruption advisor, David Robinson; Attorney General, Basil Williams; Joann Bond, Senior Parliamentary Counsel and Matthew Langevine, Director of the FIU. (Ministry of Legal Affairs photo)

British advisor for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) David Robinson, who will be spearheading an anti-corruption project here, yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams SC.

According to a press release issued by the ministry, Robinson’s visit comes at a time when he is preparing to spearhead the GUY24 project, which is aimed at supporting the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption.

At the meeting, the release said, Robinson informed Williams that he has drafted an anti-corruption work plan which sets out his planned activities to strengthen Guyana’s anti-corruption regime. This plan is to be reviewed by the government, the release said, while adding that to execute the work plan Robinson will be collaborating with all anti-corruption agencies and stakeholders, including the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

The release did not indicate when the plan will be completed and when the project will start.

According to the release, Williams indicated that the government welcomed Robinson’s presence and expertise in Guyana and is willing to work with the UNODC as anti-corruption is high on the administration’s agenda. Williams further stated that the government is currently working to strengthen SOCU by building capacity and training persons within that unit.

The Attorney General’s Chambers/Ministry of Legal Affairs has embarked on an Anti-Corruption Sensitisation Seminar, which aims to educate the public on legislation and bills aimed to tackle corruption in Guyana, the release pointed out.

Among those in attendance during the courtesy call were Sydney James, Head of SOCU; Matthew Langevine, Director of the FIU, and Joann Bond, Senior Parliamentary Counsel.

On September 16, 2015, the UNODC had proposed to assist Guyana with a UN prosecutor on corruption to ensure thorough investigations of such crimes in the future.

Regional representative of the office, Amado Philip de Andres said then that after being stone-walled by the previous PPP/C government on corruption discussions, the response from the APNU+AFC government had been positive and finalized proposals coming out of discussions could have been implemented as early as year-end.

“It is also important to mention that with the previous government, the UN had a lot of problems because the Government of Guyana is party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and now we are reviewing the implementation by the Guyanese authorities of this convention. We never obtained any response and now with the new government we are obtaining strong responses that the fight against corruption… [is] for real,” he had told reporters.

de Andres was part of a UN team that visited the Attorney-General’s Carmichael Street office to discuss issues which fall under the mandate of the UNODC. The agency aims to assist member states in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.  No further word was heard on the proposal for a prosecutor and nothing was implemented before the end of 2015.

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