ToR empowers UK expert to review all SOCU investigations

first_imgThe Irish white-collar crime expert working alongside the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), has hit back at accusations that he has been overstepping his authority at the Unit. The Unit’s Advisor, Dr Sam Sittlington, refuted the criticisms that have come his way.Sittlington, who only returned to his old job advising SOCU, on Monday addressed the issue during a press conference hosted by British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn. The Advisor rejected claims that he interfered in theUK crime expert, Sam Sittlingtonworkings of the Unit from an operation perspective.He stressed that while he may sometimes have to be on the ground to observe SOCU’s handling of investigations, this is just so he can make recommendations. He stressed that he is here to advise SOCU and that he will do so from a safe distance.“Although I’m there to assist SOCU and advise them, I do that from a proper distance. Sometimes I may have to observe them from the ground when they’re involved in searches and interviews to see whether they’re asking (the right) questions. And that their search procedures are (effective) and that they’re collecting evidence in the proper manner and the continuity of the evidence being seized from the property.”According to Sittlington, those are areas of an investigation where a case can fall apart. But he reiterated he does not make decisions on behalf of SOCU, but rather gives advice and trains individual officers based on his knowledge and experience.“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve been doing it in a lot of countries. The Terms of Reference are very clear about what I’m doing and there’s nothing in there to justify (claims). I rely on the public to see through any undermining of me.”“I have a track record, it speaks for itself and you know if someone is convicted and sent to prison, (then) the first thing they say to the prison guard is I didn’t do it. So the evidence there will speak for itself. Criticism against me, I used to have broad shoulders, they’re not broad anymore, for me, its water on the duck’s back.”Sittlington was hired by the British in January 2016 and seconded to SOCU. As a result, British High Commissioner Quinn also defended him against the accusations of undue influence. According to Quinn, Sittlington’s Terms ofThe Special Organised Crime UnitReference mean he has to advice SOCU on cases, no matter which Government is in power.“If the Government changed tomorrow, Sam would be able to continue on based on the Terms of Reference,” Quinn related. “The first mentor we provided to SOCU was in 2014, under the previous Administration. So there is no link to UK assistance to SOCU to one political administration.”Two days after a number of former Government officials were arrested and questioned, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, along with SOCU Head Sydney James and Dr Sittlington, were seen at a popular city café. They appeared to be clinking glasses in an extremely celebratory atmosphere in the dimly lit establishment.The parliamentary Opposition had been critical of this seemingly cozy friendship and had urged that the matter be probed. When asked about it, Sittlington denied anything untoward had occurred. Noting that he had to be friendly with the persons he worked with at SOCU, Sittlington was adamant that he had paid for his own food and drinks and played down the episode.ToRThis publication was able to view Sittlington’s employment Terms of Reference. His job will include a detailed review of all current investigations being carried out by SOCU. He is also mandated to provide advice and guidance on each case, as well as make recommendations on lines of enquiries to follow.Sittlington will also advice or assist in liaising with other internal and external agencies, to facilitate probes. He can also advise the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General’s Chambers on procedure for general and specific criminal matters. The expert is also tasked with liaising with the Judiciary with respect to money laundering and asset recovery cases.The ToR details that Sittlington will “conduct meetings, workshops, research and discussion with key stakeholder agencies to assess and evaluate the impact of economic crime; conduct training needs analysis of SOCU and partner agencies and address gaps in operational requirement; Review previous recommendations and their implementation or not, reassess, modify through discussion with partner agencies.”He also has to review the impact of the new State Asset Recovery Bill on the unit’s investigations by discussing and meeting with the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA); nor does his role end here, as he will be the liaison between SOCU and the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS).The ToR adds that he will be submitting a quarterly report detailing activities during the reporting period for review to the UK National Crime Agency and the British High Commission; annual reports are also required to close off each financial year. It is understood that Sittlington will be on and off the job for six months at a time, up until 2020.last_img

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