The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) is preparing itself to play its role in safeguarding the state’s property when oil production begins, according to its Director Professor Clive Thomas, who says the industry traditionally brings “illegality and corruption.”
“We are, therefore, figuring that this might be one of the sectors [in] which corruption may be involved and not only from the politicians but also persons taking advantage of their position to obtain resources that belong to the state,” Thomas told Sunday Stabroek during a recent interview.
Significant amounts of oil have been found offshore Guyana and oil production is expected to commence sometime in 2020.
Meanwhile, Thomas dismissed suggestions that SARA is not performing and he said that he sees the agency contributing very significantly to reducing corruption in the future.
“I really think it can [reduce corruption] and I think it will do so mainly because of its commitment to move forward through cooperation with other agencies. It can’t be done on its own and if it keeps being modest about its capabilities and it keeps working hard, involving other agencies in the process, I think it will have a significant impact,” he stressed.
According to Thomas, SARA continues to work closely with its external partners.
He noted that even though the agency has not taken any case to court as yet, “we find in discussions with people there is a lot of consideration given to the avoidance of theft to state assets.”
Thomas has said six cases are expected to be taken to court in the third quarter of this year and he expects success given the evidence and international support the agency is getting.
SARA is responsible for the civil recovery of stolen state assets whether money, land, buildings or vehicles.