Wanted bulletin issued for former SOCU Head

…as High Court orders GRA to hand over tax info to SOCU in money laundering probe

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) on Wednesday issued a wanted bulletin for former Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Sydney James, who had been sent on administrative leave and subsequently replaced under the coalition Government following allegations of mismanagement and falsifying documents.

Wanted: Former SOCU Head Sydney James

In a notice, the Police Force said James, whose address was given as George Avenue, Lamaha Springs, North Ruimveldt, Georgetown, is wanted for questioning in relation to obtaining money by false pretence and fraud offences.
“[He is] wanted for questioning in connection with a series of reports of obtaining money by false pretences committed in Georgetown, Guyana.
The Police are asking anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of the former SOCU Head to contact the Special Organised Crime Unit on 225-3079 and 225-3084 or the nearest Police Station.
In 2019, SOCU officials, including James, had faced accusations regarding falsified invoices which had borne forged signatures. This was unearthed after a forensic audit was launched by the Police Force, which has oversight of the white-collar crime body, into SOCU’s operations.
Other irregularities that were unearthed had included falsified records and missing documents. According to reports, there was even a case of an official who alleged his signature was forged. In addition, there are reports of listed expenditure being concocted and receipts being backdated.
James was sent on leave and subsequently replaced by then Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.

Money laundering probe
Meanwhile, in another SOCU investigation – this time for money laundering – the High Court on Monday ordered the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to produce documents to the law enforcement agency as part of an ongoing probe involving $103 million.

According to the Police, the High Court on Monday dismissed an application for a variation of a production order that was filed by the GRA and directed the Commissioner General to comply, within 14 days, with the production order granted by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, on August 12.
The production order was granted pursuant to Section 24 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11, seeking the production of documents in the possession of the Commissioner General or a duly authorised officer/agent of the Guyana Revenue Authority, a body corporate established pursuant to Section 9 of the Revenue Act, Cap. 79:04, Laws of Guyana, with its head office located at Lots 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown.
“Pursuant to the court order, SOCU has been asking the Revenue Authority for the documents, which are part of investigations into money laundering involving in excess of one hundred and three million dollars (G$103,000,000). However, the Revenue Authority has refused to produce same on the grounds that it is obligated to safeguard the returns declaration and other taxpayer information in accordance with Section 23 of the Revenue Act,” a statement from the Police Force detailed.
It noted that the court emphasised that Sections 111 and 112 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, Cap 10:11 is clear as it supersedes Section 23 of the Revenue Act Cap. 79:04 and protects the Revenue Authority from liability where documents/information are produced to SOCU.
The court further ordered costs against the GRA in the sum of $75,000. (G8)