The State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) is working with the Ministry of Legal Affairs to retrieve over GUY$200 billion in state assets lost through corruption between 2010 and 2014.
The three major forms of corruption are: procurement fraud – fraud related to purchase of goods, services, or commissioning of construction projects; illicit capital flight – money, commodities (gold) or other assets, whether legally obtained or otherwise by residents, which are intentionally transferred, smuggled, or sent abroad without the knowledge of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), or other regulatory authorities; and the underground economy – corrupt transactions that are prohibited by law and/or are undertaken by unauthorised providers.
SARU Chief Executive Officer, Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, said between GUY$28 billion and GUY$35 billion was lost every year between 2010 and 2014 to procurement fraud, GUY$90 billion as a result of illicit capital flights, and GUY$100 billion in the underground economy.
“Corruption allows people to steal and if we reduce it much of the friction around election time will stop because everybody will get their fair share of the pie,” he said.
The CEO pointed out that SARU is working on a number of activities to change the culture and behaviour of people as it relates to corruption. He added that the anti-corruption legislation will be strengthened since corruption is corrosive and impairs good governance.
To date, over two million acres of lands were retrieved, there was also the seizure of a quantity of gold, and the underground economy is almost non-existent, Heath-Retemyer said.
“Some people complain that they [government] should let the drugs flow because they would get jobs, etc. But, if drugs were allowed, and the underground community continued to flourish, you could have lost your sons and daughters to kidnapping and ransom,” he said.
“We were at the point where there would have been serious problems. The international community also informed us that the country was losing 15,000 ounces of gold per week, so the efforts to reduce corruption are well worth it.”