British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn has expressed the view that the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is doing its job.
Responding to questions at his residence on Friday, Quinn stressed that SOCU is not a prosecutorial body and therefore cannot be held accountable for lack of prosecutions in the case of the various forensic audits conducted in 2015.
Junior Minister of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma has lamented the sloth in investigations from the 50 forensic audits that government has paid over $133M for saying that he is uncertain if by the end of his government’s term in office in 2020, there would be any convictions.
Sharma had said that as the person responsible for the audits and second in charge of the nation’s purse, he wants the respective agencies to speak up on what is causing the delays and indicate if they need additional resources and how soon.
He stressed that it bothers him that while time ticks away no one is telling the Ministry of Finance why there are delays in prosecutions adding that while the auditors did their assessments based on paperwork the Police are the ones who have the authority to summon witnesses and access banking information.
Quinn, whose government has provided an advisor to SOCU in the person of Sam Sittlington was asked if he felt that they were receiving value for money based on the level of prosecutions which have occurred.
“Maybe the question should be directed elsewhere because it is not for SOCU to decide when and if a prosecution should move forward and I know that SOCU has done a lot of investigation on a whole range of subjects,” he said explaining that SOCU with advice from Sittlington has been putting together cases based on UK standards of evidence so the investigation is working.
“The next step is out of our control; all SOCU can do is put forward good cases and I think if you ask Sam he would say they have been doing that. SOCU is doing its job,” Quinn said.
Since taking office in 2015, the APNU+AFC government has spent in excess of $133M on the 50 forensic audits they commissioned into state entities.
According to Minister of Finance Winston Jordan the audits were done in accordance with Section 4 (4) of the 2004 Audit Act which states in part that “Government’s right to conduct or cause to be conducted internal audits remains unimpaired.” He also noted that in addition to that legal authority Cabinet approved the forensic audit of selected entities, projects and funds.
Several of these audits were forwarded to SOCU for investigation but charges are yet to be laid.