The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP), Omar Shariff, has been sent on leave by Minister of State Joseph Harmon, pending ongoing investigations by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Guyana Times understands that Shariff, who is a former senior member of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and a former head of that Party’s youth arm, the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO), was detained by members of the Unit for questioning in relation to a multimillion-dollar financial irregularity.
The Minister, therefore, informed Shariff in a letter that he should proceed on his Annual Leave from July 1, 2016 to enable him to fully cooperate with the investigation. Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Communities Ministry Abena Moore will take up the role of acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of The Presidency. Attorney Sanjeev Datadin, who is representing the public official, in a telephone interview with Guyana Times explained that his client was not involved in any corruption, as it is perceived, following the statement issued by the MOTP.
In fact, the lawyer explained that the issue is more or less personal and has to do with his client not filing his income tax returns for a number of years. He further explained that his client and the relevant authorities have been in discussion about resolving the matter. The lawyer went on to say that Shariff would have been earning more than what he is being paid by his present employer due to revenues collected from his business. He however failed to submit his returns, hence, the involvement of SOCU – the organisation that deals primarily with money laundering and more so corruption.
“I just want to reiterate that my client was not involved in any form of corruption, involving money with the present Government… it is a personal matter and will be dealt with expeditiously,” Datadin posited.