May 18, 2018
The State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) is said to be ramping up operations in conjunction with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and other state agencies.
SARA’s Deputy Director, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer has indicated that 25 intelligence reports have been complied and delivered to SOCU for action, a sign that the agency is making progress on several cases where State assets have allegedly been stolen and exist in Guyana and abroad.
The agency is preparing to take the first batch of cases to the courts in a month’s time.
SARA is in the process of reviewing “well over 50 to 60” cases for the recovery of State assets. The agency is hoping to focus on about 10 cases for immediate court action.
Heath-Retemyer stated that work continues to convert the information received and then advance it to court.
The Deputy Director explained that it must be anticipated that persons charged with misappropriation and theft of State assets usually advance arguments based on the procedural aspect of the acquisition.
He highlighted the need for SARA to gather evidence in a prescribed manner to ensure solid cases, with the need to be careful with the type of information divulged to the public, since this may compromise the cases.
“If I should say something in public that can be construed as though we are going after people because of political or other reasons, all these things are taken into consideration when the judge listens to the case,” Heath-Retemyer pointed out.
In terms of statistics, SARA is working with other agencies to determine how many financial crimes were actually committed. It is also working along with the United Nations country representative to craft an Anti-Corruption Policy based on the international body’s list of recommendations.
SARA has the power to recover illegally acquired State assets from public officers past and present through legal proceedings, and in consonance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The agency has intensified efforts aimed at educating other State agencies and the wider population about its role.
On Monday, SARA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that sets out the framework for cooperation between the two agencies.
At the signing ceremony, SARA’s Director, Dr. Clive Thomas said that the agency is collaborating with the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Accounting and Fraud Net to recover Guyanese assets held overseas.