kaieteur news Nov 21, 2017
Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA), Dr. Clive Thomas has dismissed claims that the agency is politically motivated in fulfilling its mandate.
Speaking with reporters following the opening ceremony of the asset recovery and law enforcement training which opened yesterday at the Felix Austin Training Centre in Georgetown, Dr. Thomas said the agency has never pursued cases based on political affiliation.
The SARA training concludes on December 15th and is facilitated by the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Accounting. Participants at the training are drawn from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIU), Ministry of Finance, Audit Office of Guyana, Bank of Guyana, National Data Management Authority (NDMA) and Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU).
“I don’t take the criticisms as being anything more than a promotion exercise on the part of those who have something to hide. We have never gone after any political person. There is no evidence of that,” Dr. Thomas noted.
He pointed out that the allegation of political interference was made against the agency when back in April, SARA and other state agents removed several laptops from the Enmore Neighbourhood Democratic Council, which is controlled by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
According to Dr. Thomas, the biggest challenge facing the agency is building human capacity, which they hope to tackle through a series of training programs.
“It is recognized in the Bill, it is recognized in the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Corruption, which is the basis from which the Bill was framed, and therefore this is why we started with training…the skills and human ability to understand where assets are stolen to trace it, investigate it, go through all the various forms to which it can be transmuted into other people’s gains,” Dr. Thomas noted.
Under the UN Convention Against Corruption, Dr. Thomas noted that it is mandated for SARU to train the judiciary to ensure that state prosecutors, judges and magistrates who undertake civil recovery of stolen state assets, are equipped with the requisite knowledge.
Apart from training, Dr. Thomas noted that SARU has been working with SOCU, which has been investigating several anti-corruption cases. Some of the cases, according to Dr. Thomas, have seen SOCU request of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to hand them over to SARA for civil recovery.
“Results in these types of cases tend to be slow, because case building is something you have to be patient about, because you have to make sure that in this environment, the first set of cases that we take to court are successful, so that we build on that reputation going forward,” Dr. Thomas stated.
The SARA head pointed out that to ultimately stop corruption is a matter of culture, education and training.