SOCU will not be dismantled – Granger

Fraud findings

President David Granger on Wednesday said there would be no dismantling of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), although an audit has found a slew of financial irregularities and internal fraud at the agency.
An audit was ordered into the operations of SOCU by Police Commissioner Leslie James in February following claims of grave mismanagement, which included the misuse of its operational fund.
On Wednesday, the President gave his reassurance that steps would be taken to restore the image of the Unit. In that regard, he maintained that SOCU would continue its operation while reminding that it was not a “loose cannon”.
“SOCU is an integral part, an organic part of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Head of SOCU is a police officer … It is going to remain. It’s not going to be dismantled. It has work to do. It is not a free agent. It is not a loose cannon and we’ll ensure that public confidence in SOCU is restored,” Granger declared.
He sided with Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who recently stated that the Top Cop would be taking action against culpable officials. These actions, he had noted, can include transfers and dismissals.
“I have taken note and I agree with the Minister of Public Security that in event that there has been any impropriety or misconduct, disciplinary action be taken… The Police Commissioner and the Minister of Public Security presumably will take the necessary actions to ensure that the Unit continues to enjoy the confidence of the public,” he said.
SOCU, which had been initially set up to probe financial and white-collar crimes, had not been audited since its establishment in 2014.
An audit of SOCU was ordered by Police Commissioner James following claims of grave mismanagement.
According to recent reports, the audit concluded with records uncovering serious irregularities, including the falsification of records, and it has recommended immediate transfers and a fraud investigation of several of the discrepancies, sources say.
Ramjattan told the media last Friday that action would be taken by Commissioner James with regard to the damning discoveries since the Unit is a branch of the Guyana Police Force.
“The Commissioner is the head of SOCU as you know. I have seen the report; it is not a very nice report and the Commissioner has told me that he is going to take action. Operational matters a Minister must not indulge in and that is an operational matter,” he noted.
The Public Security Minister explained that in having an agency where persons were not serving the purposes that they were contracted to function in, the first essential step was rebranding SOCU’s image.
In the past, SOCU had several of its cases tossed out by the courts, including a number of charges against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) executives and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) Directors. In light of these revelations of widespread fraud and financial irregularities within SOCU, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had called for the Unit to be closed down.