Opposition Leader calls for release of forensic reports

first_imgSOCU prosecutions…Minister says businessmen among those implicatedQuestioning the need for secrecy with the forensic audits the Government commissioned, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is challenging the Administration to release, unredacted, remaining reports.Jagdeo issued this challenge during his recent press conference. He made reference to the ongoing Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) case. The Opposition Leader reminded that the defendants were being charged without the opportunity to even see the forensic audit report that allegedly incriminated them.“They should release all the forensic audit reports. Look at the case they built against some of our Members of Parliament using ostensibly, a forensic audit report into the Guyana Rice Development Board and then they are refusing to give it to the defence.”Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma“The defence had to go to court to order a copy and that is fair… but then they redacted most of the report. What is so secret about these audits? What do you have to redact? If you find corruption, then you find it. It is as simple as that… Make all the forensic audit reports public. We have been saying this for a while. And then people will see how shoddy some of these works are.”Jagdeo went on to question whether the reluctance to release the remaining audits may have something to do with the quality of work. There have been cases where officials who were subject to specific audits raised this very concern.But when contacted, Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, questioned Jagdeo’s calls for the audits in the first place. According to Sharma, releasing the audits would give those implicated a heads up. And those implicated run the gamut from Public to Private Sector.“The forensic audits (implicated) other people. Business people… the forensic audits will have names of business people,” Sharma explained. “We don’t know if they’re guilty or not. I don’t personally think we should do that (release reports). The Police also don’t think we should share it, because it’s currently under active investigation.”Since coming to office, the coalition Government has initiated forensic audits into a number of Government entities. Over $130 million has been spent on these audits, which total 50. Having been completed by a number of local audit firms, they were handed over to the Police for investigations and prosecution.None have resulted in convictions. In fact, one resulted in an acquittal. That is the audit into the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC).In a previous interview with this publication in September of last year, Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) head, Assistant Commissioner of Police Sydney James, had made mention of cases being delayed. He had revealed that since being handed over 20 forensic audit reports, the Unit had managed to complete investigations into three of these matters.Those matters were their investigations into Pradoville 2, the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited, and the Commonwealth Reports for which former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was charged.James had noted that SOCU’s other investigations were still a work in progress. He had revealed that in some cases, they were awaiting legal advice. Pressed on the delay, James questioned whether he had the authority to find out reasons for the delay from the Police Force’s Legal Advisor.Following last year’s appointment of the Unit’s special advisor, UK specialist Sam Sittlington, SOCU in a bold move had arrested and questioned a number of top officials from the previous Government. These arrests were in connection to property purchased at the Sparendaam seawall area on the East Coast that is commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.While the current Administration contends that the transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that the land was sold below market value, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had argued that subsidised housing has always been a part of the legacy of the PPP, and that countless Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value. No further action was ever pursued against these former officials and the arrests prompted resounding cries of ‘witch-hunting’.last_img read more