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US urges patience over forensic audits – Charge d’Affaires Bryan HuntBy Leonard GildarieThe US has urged Guyanese to be patient as a number of Government-ordered forensic audits continue.Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Bryan Hunt, made the comments on Tuesday during an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News,NFL Jerseys Cheap, in which he also urged for interim measures to safeguard the country’s procurement system.The David Granger administration took office in May,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, following general elections, and immediately ordered a number of forensic audits into state entities and projects.These include at the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA); Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC); Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC); Guyana Gold Board (GGB); Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), among others.But there has been impatience expressed in segments of society that no one is being held accountable or taken to court, although there are strong indications that corruption existed under consecutive administrations of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).The PPP/C, while in power, had accused the US of meddling in the affairs of Guyana.Don’t CriticizeAccording to Hunt, the forensic audits are not straightforward,NFL Jerseys Outlet, describing white collar crime as a complex affair. “Forensic audits are tremendously important. I think understanding what went wrong, holding those responsible for violating the laws of justice is an important thing today. It is not something that is done quickly. Official investigation into corruption in the US can take years to develop and bring to prosecution.”US Charge d’Affaires, Bryan HuntThe Diplomat noted that some US investigations can be more complicated than the ones in Guyana, but that does not mean local auditors should not proceed carefully as there is a need to build a solid case before taking the matter to court.“So I don’t think that criticizing Government for not moving rapidly enough is the way to go. I think we need to encourage the Government to do its duty in the law enforcement sphere…do the forensic audits… do the identification of criminal responsibility…take it to the conclusion of the case.”Hunt warned that rushing the audits as a result of public pressure could see “shoddy work” being done.“…and we are going to end up with somebody who was not guilty taking the fall for what happens or we are going to end up seeing people who are criminally responsible not being jailed because the Government didn’t do its job in building the case. I think it is important for the Guyanese people to exercise patience.”He stressed that white collar crime is never something which moves quickly from investigation to prosecution. “And you probably should not because it is a lot more complicated to prove a white collar case than to prove a garden variety type of crime.”Hunt,Wholesale Jerseys China, an outspoken Diplomat, who has been running the US Embassy since the departure of Ambassador D. Brent Hardt around mid-last year, is convinced that the country has weaknesses in the system that allowed corruption to happen.Mis-spent“It’s very clear that monies were mis-spent. The question is who is responsible? Is there criminal liability etc.… will have to be answered in the investigations. The Government has to spend some time probably working with the Auditor General and the (Office of the) Ombudsman to figure out how was that allowed to happen. What are the procedures that someone could in fact mis-allocate in some cases billions of dollars? I think it is going to be important to tighten not only the procedures but the internal accountability (of the country)”.Moving forward, Hunt believes that the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission is the right step for Guyana.The body is supposed to oversee the award of state contracts but its establishment has been delayed for nearly a decade. “I think that it should move forward as soon as it is constitutional possible. It requires the support probably of both sides of the aisle to make that happen but I think it is the right decision and I hope it does move forward.”In the interim, the new administration should take steps to increase the independence between politicians and the procurement decisions.“…there can be steps taken to increase the independence of the National Tender Board…steps taken…that people at the top levels are not the ones that are making the decisions about whose friends get the contracts. I think having an open process with multiple safeguards…having that process independently audited by the Auditor General or the Ombudsman or someone else would begin to address some of that.”Hunt was clear that Guyana has a corruption issue. “I think we need to be honest about the fact that Guyana has a corruption problem. I think a lot of energy was spent trying to dodge that fact for a long time.”Hunt was critical about past attacks on watchdog bodies like Transparency International whose reports have confirmed perception of corruption in the country.“I think fighting back against Transparency International about statistics and what methodology is a lot of wasted energy. I think most Guyanese would agree that there is a corruption problem in the country. Certainly,Cheap Jerseys From China, the business community has been very clear that there is a transparency and corruption problem in the country, so it needs to be dealt with. I think trying to cover it up and saying nothing –‘Oh, it is not as people think it is’- is not helpful. It is better to look at it that we have an issue and deal with it.”


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