In keeping with a proposal made in 2015, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has appointed a UN prosecutor to deal with corruption matters in Guyana but the details of his work have not been made public.
“UNODC has delivered on the promise and Mr. David Robinson, former UK British Prosecutor, has been appointed to head our UNODC Office in Guyana, reporting to the UNODC Regional Office in Panama,” UNODC Regional representative Amado Philip de Andres told Stabroek News recently.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs had announced Robinson’s presence in Guyana in a statement on September 10 but did not mention that his arrival here was as a result of a proposal made in 2015.
de Andres told Stabroek News from his office in Panama that Robinson will be supporting the Guyanese authorities to “strengthen national capacities to fight …corruption and money laundering.”
In its statement, the ministry had described Robinson as a British advisor for UNODC. According to the statement, 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 a meeting, the statement said, Robinson informed Attorney General Basil 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 statement 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 statement did not indicate when the plan will be completed and when the project will start and attempts by this newspaper yesterday to ascertain these two issues were futile.
de Andres, following a meeting with Williams on September 16, 2015, had said 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 that finalised proposals coming out of discussions could be 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.
The UNODC aims to assist member states in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. Transnational crimes centred on crime and the trafficking of drugs have been worrisome for Guyana and over the years, evidence has emerged that corruption at various levels have helped to fuel these types of crimes.
de Andres said that the discussions which had come one day after a meeting with the Prime Minister were up to that point twofold: prevention and prosecution, and investigation with regards to corruption and money laundering. He had informed that UNODC was looking at some options for asset recovery and specialised anti-corruption investigations.
One option, he had said, is to support the government and, more particularly, the Attorney General with a UN prosecutor on corruption “working mainly to mainstream legislation and ensure that future investigations on corruption which I would say are more and more sophisticated, are carried out in the right way.”