The People’s National Congress (PNC), the main party in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), is distancing itself from the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
This is in the wake of several incidents where the Unit was perceived to be targeting the political Opposition.
In a release on Tuesday, the party referenced recent statements by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. During a recent press conference, the former President had stated that given SOCU’s actions, the Unit had been converted into a political, witch-hunting outfit.
“It is a police unit operating under the authority of the Commissioner of Police, but with a close relationship with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) established under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act, Chapter 10:11 of the Laws of Guyana,” the party went on to say.
According to the party, the PNC “does not control, or in any way direct, the work of the Special Organised Crime Unit and rejects any suggestion or insinuation that the Unit is a PNC Outfit.” It also called for a retraction.
During a recent press conference, Jagdeo was critical of the politicisation of the Unit. The former President had noted that SOCU was not fulfilling its actual mandate, which is to bring drug dealers and money launderers to justice.
Jagdeo had also argued that Government’s action in this regard has been blatant, referring to examples where members of the Government called out members of the Opposition in Parliament, warning them to look out for SOCU. He, therefore, reminded that Ministers had no line responsibility for SOCU.
For the year, SOCU has brought several persons with ties to the parliamentary Opposition to court. In April, former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall was arraigned for fraudulently converted to his own use and benefit 14 Commonwealth Law Reports, valued at .3 million — which he allegedly unlawfully retained after demitting office in 2015.
The next month, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament Dharamkumar Seeraj and Nigel Dharamlall; former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Deputy General Manager Ricky Ramraj; former GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh; former GRDB Board member Badrie Persaud and former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Agriculture Ministry, Prema Roopnarine, were before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts to answer several charges of fraudulent omission.