During the recently concluded 2021 budget debates, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn made the shocking disclosure that $300M is missing from the Police Welfare Fund. He subsequently indicated that an investigation is underway. But after learning that this probe is being led by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU), Financial Crimes Expert, Dr. Sam Sittlington told Guyana Standard that having one arm of the Guyana Police Force investigate another is highly unlikely to yield results due to the clear conflict of interest.
In an invited comment, Dr. Sittlington said, “I think this is totally daft…They don’t have the expertise or know-how and they are investigating their own people which is a definite no-no. I heard of this investigation since the beginning of last year. It was suppressed and I would be surprised if any documentation is still available. Certainly Commissioner of Police , Leslie James was aware of it….”

The Financial Crimes Expert also reminded that an investigation was carried out into corrupt behaviour at SOCU by Police Fraud Unit and nothing ever became of it. Guyana Standard would have reported on this matter in 2019 where it was noted that Former Head of SOCU, Sydney James and other officers were under investigation by the Guyana Police Force for millions of dollars that went missing along with quantities of gold that were confiscated via several money laundering cases and kept in SOCU’s safe. Not one person has been placed behind bars for this matter. “It has gone away despite the official financial audit uncovering severe deficiencies and fraudulent paperwork and missing funds. The Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack had even instructed on what evidence was required. The audit findings were sufficient to lay charges but nothing happened. This is because people are being protected,” the Financial Crimes Expert said.
While there have been some administrative changes at SOCU, Dr. Sittlington said only time will tell whether it is still as leaky as before. He said, however, that the fact remains that officers there have not been trained in any further investigation techniques or fraud or money laundering. Taking these factors into account, Dr. Sittlington said that SOCU’s probe is highly unlikely to yield results and serious prosecutorial action.


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