There has been much chatter, uneasiness and even panic within recent months over local institutional activities to tackle Money Laundering and Asset Recovery.
In another section of the media on September 8, 2016 under caption “SARA’s powers to snoop around citizens’ private accounts worrying”, there was a blast of panic from the PSC over potential violation of citizens’ constitutional rights.
Let me posit my disagreement with the narrative by stating that there is nothing to worry about if there is nothing to hide. And those who have things to hide would be better off ‘coming clean’ by returning stolen state assets or making alternative restitution.
Money Laundering, embezzlement, and unlawful acquisition of State Assets are serious international crimes.
Some persons of interest with links or direct involvement in these crimes are suspects of layering and integrating proceeds locally, particularly through smurfing.
With renewed efforts to counter these crimes by the incumbent administration, some individuals have even attempted to hide by fleeing to other jurisdictions. I use the word “attempted” because under the United Nations Charter there is no immunity for such crimes of corruption. With strong jurisprudence, Interpol’s tentacles can be effectively activated to capture those stowaways.
Reference is made to Articles 43, 51 and Chapter 5 of the United Nations Charter. On April 16, 2008, Guyana assented to the United Nations Convention against Corruption under which those crimes are captioned.
The State has an obligation under international protocols to counter such crimes.
Over time we have been cultured to believe it is the status quo for the community to rally together to catch the poor mango thief and hand him over to the police who will throw him into the dungeon if he is lucky to survive the prior ‘blows’ of over-zealous vigilantes, while the corrupt official who steals millions is handled with ‘kids gloves’, enjoys pre-trial liberty on bail before his skilful battery of lawyers argue for his exoneration of the crime in Court.
That status quo is changing. Just look closest home, to the south, in Brazil!
So those who are agitating against the operation of relevant local agencies, particularly SARU and SOCU, to investigate and prosecute against Money Laundering and Asset Recovery should rest assured that action must be taken against those found culpable.
It is the overwhelming expectation of the majority of Guyanese that the government take all necessary steps to curb corruption, eliminate drug trafficking, stamp-out money-laundering, protect, preserve and recover state assets applicably. It is taking some time, but every long rope has an end.
The government would be guilty of failing the citizenry by sacrificing the nation’s security at the expense of a few whose ‘privacy’ is effectively forfeited through their involvement in such abominable and damaging crimes against the state.