Home News Recruitment of new SOCU advisor will “take some time” – British diplomat
Nearly a month after Dr Sam Sittlington was fired by the United Kingdom Government as advisor to Guyana’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), British High Commissioner Greg Quinn says the process of finding a replacement will take some time.
This is even as Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan has expressed a desire to have Dr Sittlington return.
“We’re at that period where we’re at the end of our financial year so we’ve just completed all the activity we are going to do this year…We are now looking at what happens going forward into the next financial year,” Quinn explained during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Monday.
According to the British diplomat, the process can be lengthy. “It will take a little bit of time,” he noted.
Dr Sittlington, an Irish consultant and fraud expert, was fired last month after it was discovered that he established a local company in Guyana; a move which was considered a conflict of interest.
Sittlington is the Director of his UK-based ‘The Fraud Company Limited’, and last year, he established a local branch here. His company, just like SOCU, deals with fraud, corruption, money laundering and other white collar-related matters.
“Having a company registered locally whilst being in the employ and doing work for the UK Government, I think deemed the conflict,” Quinn explained.
He explained that the UK Government had a contract with a company which contracted Sittlington.
Sittlington has since contended that he was wrongfully fired. He argued that the establishment of a company here is not a conflict of interest and signalled his intention to sue the British Government.
“The legal process is the legal process, if he feels he has the right and ability to do that, we certainly are not going to stop him,” High Commissioner Quinn noted.
Dr Sittlington spent a 14-week stint in Guyana in 2017 where he worked with SOCU on the “Pradoville 2” case which saw former top Government officials being taken in for questioning; a move which has been described as a political witch-hunt.
In fact, the evening after the officials were questioned, Dr Sittlington along with SOCU Head, Sydney James and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had converged at a popular night spot in the city to “sip wine”, in what was described as a “celebratory atmosphere”.
Dr Sittlington had then returned to the UK but was contracted again by the British Government to provide consultancy service to SOCU. He returned in January 2018 where he served as Advisor until his contract was terminated early last month.
Questions were raised about the integrity of the cases being investigated by SOCU following this and other developments – including the resignation of the Deputy, Sheronie James. Reports are that she resigned after a local Magistrate disqualified her as an expert witness based on her lack of qualifications.
SOCU Head Sydney James had noted that he will have to seek legal advice on the matter. “It might affect ongoing cases and I’ll have to get legal advice on that because as you know, if she was giving evidence or had done an investigation and it is before the courts, that might be a challenge. But I think the legal people will give us advice,” he stated.
SOCU is currently being audited after it was alleged that senior officials at the entity improperly spend funds allocated to the agency.