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…says accusations aimed at sidetracking from audit, missing $300M
Two Senior Officers of the Guyana Police Force have been accused of widespread corruption, even as they embark, on what has been described as a “political witch-hunting” exercise targeting innocent ranks but the Force, in an official statement, said the allegations are intended to sidetrack the country from the real issue – a Financial Audit being conducted, and the $300M unaccounted for in the Finance Department.
“The Guyana Police Force (GPF) is in crisis and requires urgent, non-political intervention to restore its integrity and credibility as well as its public trust which has been completely eroded,” a group of disgruntled police officers said in a detailed letter to sections of the press and other bodies. They accused two senior officers of launching a vicious attack on innocent members of the Force, though they, themselves are ‘guilty’ of allegedly defrauding the Force of millions of dollars.
The Guyana Police Force, in an official statement issued on Tuesday night, said the document, which seeks to cast aspersions on the character of senior ranks and bring the Force into disrepute lacks merit.
“The document is a pathetic attempt to sidetrack from the real issue at hand which is the finance audit,” the Force said, while announcing that an investigation will be launched to determine the source of the letter.
“Those culpable will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” the Police Force assured.
It said too that the allegations have surfaced at a time when several officers were placed on administrative leave to facilitate investigations into some $300M unaccounted for in the Finance Department.
“Only recently, the Minister of Home Affairs, during his Budget 2021 presentation, endorsed the investigations. It is therefore highly suspicious that after the announcement of the $300M fraud that this document has suddenly surfaced,” the posited.
Nonetheless, it assured that the Guyana Police Force and its senior officers, will continue to cooperate with the auditors and investigators to bring the issue to finality.
“The culpable will be dealt with as the law dictates,” the Force assured.
The peeved officers, said though the Police Central Welfare Fund (PCWF) has a robust system in place to account for meals prepared by the Mess Halls for ranks who work beyond the call of duty, the senior ranks are now attempting to lay fraud charges against two female officers.
“The processing system includes accounts that are prepared by the Mess staff and signed by the officer in charge, who then sends the accounts to the finance office. Those accounts are received by a rank from the registry at the finance office. The said rank would sign acknowledging receipt of the documents, affix a stamp and date received and initial same. The documents are then forwarded to the finance officer’s office for the FO to sign verifying that the documentation is in order and to authorize payment,” the police officers explained.
The vouchers, the concerned ranks said, are thoroughly examined at various levels and any error is corrected before they are dispatched to the Home Affairs Ministry.
“If upon arrival at the Ministry, a mistake is detected, the vouchers would be sent back to the GPF finance office to be corrected. They would also be entered into the Integrated Financial Management Information System. Once entered it is again examined electronically and approved for the Ministry of Finance to issue the cheque,” they was further detailed.
The peeved ranks said notwithstanding the checks and balances in place, the senior police officials dispatched investigators from the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) “to inquire from place to place and Mess to Mess who eat and who didn’t eat.”
Since the start of the investigation, SOCU has accused a Superintendent falsifying the accounts to defraud the Government, though she has absolutely no control over the PCWF, the letter stated.
Another female Senior Superintendent has been accused of conspiring with officer or officers to defraud the government, because as a finance officer, she is alleged to have initialed the accounts upon receipt of them coming to the finance office – a required procedure. S
“Since the SOCU ranks are alleging conspiracy and fraud, albeit egregiously, it therefore naturally follows all previous signatories, as enumerated above, including the Permanent Secretary, should also be guilty of this alleged fraud. The question to be asked is, why the others whose signatures are on the said documents are not a part of the alleged conspiracy? The reason is that there is no fraud. They are using said false allegations to smear these officers and prevent them from elevation in the GPF,” the concerned ranks reasoned.
They contended that the Superintendents are being accused wrongfully, while the Acting Commissioner of Police, Nigel Hoppie, who once served as a finance officer for eight years, is fully aware of the system.
Further, they said the allegations are being leveled against innocent and hardworking ranks when it is the two officers who should face charges for misappropriation of state resources.