SARU soon to get legislative basis – AG

…says World Bank wrapping up review

legislations will soon be enacted to govern the operations of the controversial State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), which was established by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration to hunt for assets that initially belonged to the State but are now in the hands of private individuals.

Though without legal authority, SARU has been deeply involved in its operations which included investigations into alleged incidents of corruption and making recommendations for charges to be laid accordingly.

During an interview with media operatives on Wednesday, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil

Attorney General Basil Williams
Attorney General Basil Williams
 Economist, Dr Clive Thomas
Economist, Dr Clive Thomas

Williams said the draft legislation is currently with the World Bank for review.

“It is almost out of the pipelines,” he said.

A team of specialists from the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) had agreed to assist SARU in its operations. StAR is a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds.

StAR works with developing countries and financial centres to prevent laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of such assets.

According to the Attorney General, the international body is currently concluding its examination of the draft bill. While he could not pronounce on a timeframe, Williams said the legislation will be effected soon.

In a previous interview with Guyana Times, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn had emphasised that SARU needs a “proper” legislative backing as it carries out the mandate given by Government.

The High Commissioner, whose office is lending assistance to SARU in various areas including legislation, said the Unit needs the appropriate and relevant legislation so that it can operate within the confines of the law.

So far, SARU, which is headed by renowned Economist, Dr Clive Thomas, has recommended that the relevant authority consider laying charges against several People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo, over allegations they were all involved in obtaining State lands at an undervalued market price.

The Unit has also dealt with controversial matters including the National Industrial Commercial and Investment Limited (NICIL) case; BaiShanLin case; among others.

Reports indicate that once the legislation is passed, SARU will be renamed the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA).