Ramjattan denies political interference in SOCU

…after Jagdeo slams Govt on prying PPP officials

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is refuting allegations that members of the executive are involved in determining targets for the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) to go after.

In the wake of reports that SOCU officials will be travelling to the US to question

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall was accompanied by two of his lawyers when initially charged

former Government officials, Minister Ramjattan denied that political interference precipitated the move.

Instead, the minister was adamant that he takes a “hands off” approach in his dealings with the unit, which has over the past few months gone after, questioned, and even charged a number of former PPP officials.

Recently making the news is that SOCU wanted to question former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited head Winston Brassington.

During a recent press conference, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was critical

Former GRDB officials who were charged. From left are former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine; Members of Parliament Dharamkumar Seeraj and Nigel Dharamlall; former GRDB Board member Badrie Persaud, and former GRDB Deputy General Manager Ricky Ramraj

of the perceived politicisation of the unit. The former President has noted that SOCU is not fulfilling its actual mandate, which is to bring drug dealers and money launderers to justice.

“It (SOCU) has been created to go after PPP officials; not drug dealers, not money launderers, not anyone else, but to go after PPP people. So we will continue to oppose the witch-hunt,” Jagdeo declared.

Jagdeo had also argued that Government’s action in this regard has been blatant. He has referred to instances when 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 implemented charges against several persons with ties to

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

the parliamentary Opposition. In April, former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, was arraigned before Georgetown Magistrate Fabayo Azore on a charge instituted by SOCU, which detailed that, between May 15 and May 29, 2015, while being a bailee (custodian), he had fraudulently converted to his own use and benefit 14 Commonwealth Law Reports, valued at $2.3 million — which he allegedly unlawfully retained after demitting office in 2015.

The following month, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament Dharamkumar Seeraj and Nigel Dharamlall; former Deputy General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Ricky Ramraj; former GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh; former GRDB Board member Badrie Persaud; and former Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Prema Roopnarine, were brought before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts to answer several charges of fraudulent omission.

The indictable charges were laid in relation to the operations of the GRDB between the years 2011 and 2015. They came one day after the officials had been summoned by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for questioning. No other members of the board of directors were targeted by the unit.