CRIMINAL PROBE….SOCU questions PPP MPs, Sam Hinds
Former PM, Samuel Hinds
Former PM, Samuel Hinds

SEVERAL high-level officials of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), including former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, have been interrogated by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) as that body ramps up its investigation into allegations of fraud committed by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).The allegations stemmed from an audit report conducted by former Auditor General Anand Goolsarran, which resulted in the CEO of the unit, Winston Brassington and his deputy being sent on leave.

 Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira

At a news conference on Wednesday,the PPP’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira,  said: “Myself along with party members Nigel Dharamlall, Irfaan Ali and the former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds,  were on separate occasions approached by ranks of the SOCU and summoned on separate occasions, to be questioned on issues surrounding the audit.”
While only the four have been questioned thus far, others are expected to appear before investigators of the Special and Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU). Teixeira informed the media that the officers came to her home and requested an interview with her. “Knowing that some of the other people had appointments, I said okay can I come in today or tomorrow and they said today, so I went in,” the Chief Whip disclosed.
She stated that she went to SOCU in the company of her attorney, Bibi Shaddick – a PPP-nominated commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission. Asked what she was questioned about, Teixeira said she could not “talk about those right now,” but noted that the questions were centred on the audit report submitted by Goolsarran.
“They said it’s the first phase of looking at the statements and issues raised in Mr Goolsarran’s report that relate to criminal activity,” said Teixeira. Goolsarran in his report stated that numerous discrepancies were unearthed during the audit.

PPP MP, Irfaan Ali
PPP MP, Irfaan Ali

Government back in December had turned over the report to the Guyana Police Force to conduct their investigations and Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud, had confirmed that they have received the audit report and have begun investigations to determine if any criminality was involved in the management of the controversial state holding company.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in announcing the criminal probe said Cabinet had deliberated on the report, submitted to it and made several directives despite the fact that the Board of Directors of NICIL had not yet deliberated on the report. “Those were that the report and accompanying notes of the consultant and advice of the minister be handed to the Commissioner of Police and the Special Organised Crime Unit for investigations, as to whether there were any acts of criminality committed by those concerned and to take the process forward; that the said reports be submitted to the Auditor General for a more precise audit of the issues highlighted in the report; that the Minister of Finance give instructions for a transaction audit of NICIL to be conducted and to facilitate all of these things; that the CEO and the deputy CEO of NICIL be sent on administrative leave immediately pending the outcome of the actions that have to be taken,” he added.
He had explained that there will be no second guessing on what the police will unearth during its investigation or what the forensic audit by the Auditor General’s office will find. “What I can say is that there is in Cabinet’s view, sufficient information provided in that report for the agencies to which these reports are sent to use it as a basis for further action. Cabinet is not saying that anybody should be charged. Cabinet is saying that based on the reports brought to it, these reports should be sent to the competent agencies for them to explore further and for them to dig deeper and determine whether criminality exists and where they do find criminality, they should take whatever action they deem necessary.”
Brassington had denied any illicit actions, stating, “As far as I know I have not broken any laws and if Mr Goolsarran is suggesting it, then I believe I have a clear defence on why what we did was properly done and we should not be held responsible.” “I am willing to testify but you can’t bring a charge up on the basis of a law that has been clearly contradicted by all the lawyers and there is no evidence of it being broken,” he said.



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