The success rate of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) will be the main factor for consideration when Guyana comes up for the fourth round of evaluation by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in 2022.
As such, the agency has seen significant improvement in the number of files referred for prosecution for its core function and other financial crimes.
This was recently revealed by the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams. Expounding further on the matter, Williams said that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) during the period October 2017 to October 2018, submitted 18 money laundering referrals to SOCU. Williams said that this has resulted in several criminal and civil files for prosecution including one money laundering file referred for prosecution and two Civil Forfeiture applications to the High Court.
Williams said that the cases referred for prosecution over this period include the Omar Shariff case where the former Permanent Secretary of the Office of the President, Omar Shariff, is being investigated for the misappropriation of $20 billion dollars; the Ashni Singh and Winston Brassington matter with eight charges of misconduct are before them; the Opposition’s Anil Nandlal who has one count of larceny against him; and the Opposition’s Irfaan Ali who has 19 counts against him in the Pradoville Two matter which totals $174,824,388.
In addition to the aforementioned, Williams said that there are 22 other forensic audits and corruption type investigations involving billions of dollars.
Currently, there are more than 40 files from SOCU awaiting the decision of Chief Justice, Madam Justice Roxanne George with respect to the issue of Misconduct in Public Office. There are also 14 other files awaiting evidence from State Agencies for criminal charges to be instituted.
Furthermore, the Attorney General noted that there are several investigations that have been held up as a result of the Magistrates Court’s refusal to grant Court Orders where there is no pending cause or matter before the Court.
Under the previous administration, Guyana was blacklisted for failing to enact the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation. The country was later removed, following the government’s passage of the AML/CFT Amendment Bill 2015.
The fourth round of the Financial Action Task Force’s mutual evaluation involves two inter-related components – for technical compliance and effectiveness. The technical compliance factor assesses whether the necessary laws, regulations or other required measures are in force and are effective, also whether the supporting AML/CFT institutional framework is in place. The effectiveness component assesses whether the AML/CFT systems are working, and the extent to which the country is achieving the defined set of outcomes.