first_imgAttorney General Basil WilliamsThe audit report into the operations of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has been completed but Government, the head of that Unit, and the Police Commissioner are mum on its findings and recommendations.Although the media has already highlighted the findings and recommendation of the audit, which speaks to serious irregularities, including the falsification of records, Attorney General Basil Williams on Monday declined to comment on the issue citing he is yet to receive a copy of report.“Was the report released formally? I don’t see any official report about SOCU…”, Williams said on Monday.Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Leslie James, told Guyana Times on Monday afternoon that whatever information has to be disclosed about that report would be done via his Public Relations Officer.Additionally, the Head of SOCU, Sydney James, when asked about the credibility of the cases that the Unit had pursued and is presently pursuing in light of the damning allegations of fraudulent activities at SOCU, stated that he too would not be commenting on the issue.“I don’t know. You could talk to the Commissioner, honestly, I don’t know…I don’t want to comment on the matter,” James said.According to recent reports, the audit of the financial records of SOCU has uncovered serious irregularities, including the falsification of records, and has recommended immediate transfers and a fraud investigation of several of the discrepancies, sources say.An audit of SOCU, which is a branch of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), was ordered by Police Commissioner Leslie James in February following claims of grave mismanagement, which included the misuse of its operational fund.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has previously said that SOCU’s mandate is not being delivered, especially since it is suspected of taking political directives. He had noted that this was responsible for its failure rate.SOCU, which had been initially set up to probe financial crimes and strengthen the country’s anti-money laundering architecture, had not been audited since its establishment in 2014.The Unit had been engaged in major high-profile probes of former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government officials. The findings of the audit would be seen as a major embarrassment for the current Government.SOCU has already had several of its cases tossed out of the window by the courts, including a number of charges against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) executives and Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) Directors.In light of these revelations of widespread fraud and financial irregularities within SOCU, the PPP called for the Unit to be closed down.According to the Party on Friday, the revelations vindicate its many warnings about SOCU deviating from its mandate. In fact, the Party noted that the revelations are just the tip of the iceberg, and that a forensic audit from an outside impartial auditor is needed.“The materials”, the Party said, “disclosed by the audit have confirmed our worst fears. But we are convinced that it is only the tip of the iceberg.“This Unit has rendered itself absolutely unfit to function as a law enforcement agency and as part of the prosecutorial arm of the State. There is no doubt that both investigations and prosecutions are being compromised by this diabolical outfit, who takes political instructions directly from Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, the Attorney General, and the Ministry of the Presidency”, the Party said.The Party also called for Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who is the subject Minister responsible for SOCU, to immediately resign. It noted that the Unit has for some time been giving appearances of unethical behaviour.“The public was made aware of the unholy relationship between Minister Khemraj Ramjattan; Attorney General Basil Williams; British consultant, Dr Sam Sittlington; and senior functionaries at SOCU; who were sighted jovially sipping wine and champagne at public places after arresting a number of PPP leaders.”“The public”, the PPP added, “would well remember a former Commissioner of Police publicly distancing himself from the operations of this Unit. Recently, the Director of Public Prosecutions, in a sworn affidavit in a High Court proceeding, made it clear that the Office of the DPP did not advise on a series of criminal charges instituted by this Unit.”IcebergAccording to the PPP, complaints have been made against the Unit by various business persons. The Party related that businessmen have been shaken down by the Unit and have had their valuables seized.“Over the years, we have received multiple reports from businessmen that SOCU officers have extracted from them huge sums of monies as bribes, and seized large caches of jewellery, monies and other personal valuables, including quantities of foreign currencies, from their premises without due process, and have converted these assets to their own use.“We have also received reports of falsification of evidence in prosecutions, and the refusal to disclose materials which the law requires them to do, in order to ensure a fair trial of persons charged,” the Party said. “This contamination of the criminal justice system strikes at the very foundation of the rule of law.”Police Commissioner Leslie Jameslast_img read more

first_imgMinister Varadkar officially opening the Coast Guard station in Killybegs yesterday. Now Malin Head is to get a massive IT upgradeDD Exclusive: The future of Malin Head Coast Guard station is guaranteed after a promise from Minister Leo Varadkar that it will share in a €1M upgrade of its IT systems, Donegal Daily can reveal.More than €330,000 of new technology is on its way to the station in the next few months, with the rest of the money being spent upgrading both Dublin HQ and Valencia Island Coast Guard station.Irish Coast Guard Director Chris Reynolds shocked an audience in Killybegs yesterday where their new state-of-the art Coast Guard station was opened. “I am delighted to have this opportunity to tell you all that a new €1M upgrade of our IT systems will be announced shortly and Malin Head will share in that,” he said.Afterwards Donegal TD Joe McHugh said the official announcement, which will be made in a few weeks, was proof Malin Head is now safe from cuts.“The fact is that Minister Varadkar came to Malin Head Coast Guard station himself to see the work done there and he guaranteed its future afterwards,” said Deputy McHugh last night.“Unfortunately there were unfounded rumours since that the station was still under threat and that just wasn’t true but those claims took on a life of their own and this €330,000 spend on new technology at Malin Head will puts those rumours to bed once and for all. “It is a testament to the fantastic work done 24 hours every day and 365 days of each year by the dedicated staff at Malin Head who are heroes, not just to people around Ireland every day, but to seafarers around the world.”Minister Varadkar said he was “delighted” that Malin Head will get a one third share in the new technology upgrade, adding: “We are working all the time to upgrade our Coast Guard services with the aim of opening a new station every year.“The IT upgrade is also part of our commitment to the service.” €1M PROMISE GUARANTEES FUTURE OF MALIN HEAD COAST GUARD STATION was last modified: March 29th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:coast guardIT upgradeKillybegsMalin Headlast_img read more

first_imgSouth African Tourism appoints FCB South AfricaSouth African Tourism today announced the appointment of FCB South Africa (PTY) LTD as its Lead Marketing Agency in the execution of its mandate to market South Africa as a tourist destination of choice to both domestic and international tourists.FCB South Africa’s appointment is on a non-exclusive basis to provide SA Tourism with the development and execution of integrated marketing services, media buying, planning and coordination services globally for a period of 3 years effective 1 October 2015. The contract is extendable for a further 2 years at the sole discretion of South African Tourism.The tender process was completed having full regard for all laws and regulations governing supply chain management in the public sector with specific reference to Section 51 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Act 1 of 1999.South African Tourism’s Internal Audit unit played an oversight role during each of the stages of the tender process to ensure that roles, responsibilities and processes were executed in unison of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and National Treasury Regulations to ensure that all relevant aspects were addressed and complied with.Thulani Nzima, SA Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer says: “We are very excited as SA Tourism to have FCB South Africa come on board as a Lead Marketing Agency at this critical point when we are aligning our international and domestic marketing strategies to speak in uniformity to the South African Tourism brand. We are operating in a very competitive environment that requires a well-defined brand that has global appeal and affinity, is consistently and seamlessly communicated and marketed, and has the impetus to attract tourists to our beautiful country.FCB South Africa is widely regarded in the industry for building some of South Africa’s iconic brands and we are excited of our new partnership in taking tourism forward.”Thulani concludes: “We are thrilled with the new partnership that we envisage will strengthen our brand, making it more recognisable and appealing to both domestic and international tourists. We believe that the strength of our brand will attract more tourists to our shores and contribute to the growth of our economy and job creation.”Source = South African Tourismlast_img read more