Gov’t still to decide on proposed UNODC anti-corruption plan – AG

More than two months after being handed a draft anti-corruption work plan by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) advisor David Robinson, government is yet to decide on the way forward.

This is according to Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams SC, who told Stabroek News last week that Robinson is here in an advisory capacity and will not be actively involved in the prosecution of corruption matters.

“He has a plan that he shared with us… shared… to stakeholders. We will look at the plan. We have not made that determination [to accept] yet,” he said.

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.

In its statement, the ministry had described Robinson as a British advisor for UNODC. According to the statement, Robinson’s visit came at a time when he was 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 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).

Asked about Robinson’s work schedule here, Williams told Stabroek News that the advisor is here within the UNODC’s remit to “look at corruption and would probably assist our approach. You know we have an anti-corruption drive.”

Noting that Robinson’s role here is nothing more than an advisory capacity, he said that the British expert recently accompanied staffers from the Ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister to a forum in Geneva.

Williams added that Robinson will be the best persons to get details from as he was not hired by the government.

“You have to find that out from him. We didn’t appoint him. What we know is that the United Nations appointed him,” he said.

UNODC Regional representative Amado Philip de Andres had told Stabroek News in September that the body had delivered on its promise to appoint a prosecutor to deal with corruption matters in Guyana.

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.”

Another UNODC official, Augusto Lavieri, had told Stabroek last month that Robinson was working with national counterparts in the implementation of a number of priority activities that need to be carried out before the end of the year.

Following a meeting with Williams on September 16, 2015, he 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.

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