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Guyana - Corruption

Guyana has become increasingly vulnerable to the activities generated from transnational crimes, particularly, illegal trafficking in drugs and weapons, money laundering and illegal migration. The emergence of violent gangs and contract killings associated with the deportation of criminal aliens from metropolitan countries and the cross border narcotics and illegal arms trade have further resulted in significant negative impacts on the level of investment, retention of skilled manpower and the quality of life of the general population. This phenomenon affects the entire Anglophone Caribbean.

From 1980 until mid- 1985, organized gangs of Afro-Guyanese terrorized Indo-Guyanese communities. The groups' trademark method of entry led them to be called kick-down-the-door gangs. The gangs were fully armed and used military tactics and techniques. Gang crimes against the Indo-Guyanese included robbery and occasionally rape or murder.

Police response to the gangs caused a civic outcry. The police routinely arrived at victims' homes hours after a crime had occurred, even if notified when the crime was in progress. The halfhearted police response encouraged the growth of the gangs, which became so bold that they began to undertake daylight operations. Fear so paralyzed Indo-Guyanese communities that women in rural areas congregated most of the day by public roads, seeking safety in numbers.

Many analysts believed that the PNC sponsored, or at least tolerated, the kick-down-the-door gangs. Despite stringent gun control laws, gang members carried automatic weapons. One observer called the gangs "policemen by day and bandits by night." The gangs used tactics the PNC had employed against opposition parties, only on a larger scale and with even greater brutality. After Burnham's death in 1985, the gangs disappeared.

Allegations of corruption remain common. According to Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Guyana is ranked 119th out of 168 countries for perceptions of corruption– rising by five slots from 124 the previous year. Guyana has ratified the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), and bribery is established as a criminal offense under Guyanese law. Although the government passed legislation in 1997 that requires public officials to disclose their assets to an Integrity Commission prior to assuming office, the Integrity Commission has never been constituted and remains inoperative. Public Officials’ compliance with the legislation has therefore been uneven.

The Procurement Act of 2003 provided for the establishment of an oversight body, a Public Procurement Commission and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), which handles day-to-day operations. The Minister of Finance appoints the members of this Board. The Public Procurement Commission’s job is to ensure transparency and accountability throughout the government procurement process including in regards to the NPTAB’s operations; it has never been established.

There are widespread concerns about inefficiencies and corruption regarding the awarding of contracts particularly with respect to concerns of collusion and non-transparency. In his annual report, the Auditor General has noted continuous disregard for the procedures, rules, and the laws that govern public procurement systems.

The Criminal Law Act classifies both corruption and bribery as illegal. Offenses carry a penalty of GYD 390,000 (USD 2,000) and three-to-seven-years imprisonment.

By 2006 Acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene was known to be on the payroll of narco-traffickers who have connections to some in the "Buxton resistance", which included notorious local criminals such as Rondell "Fine Man" Rawlins. This outfit's members were responsible for recent horrific crimes, none of which Green solved in his former role as Crime Chief. Greene's leadership style (if it can be called that) was to compensate for his professional incompetence and serial sexual assault of female subordinates through sycophancy, intimidation, bureaucratic manipulation, and cultivating relationships with well-connected criminals. Greene had divided loyalties -- to the government on the one hand, but also to the various narco-traffickers, alien smugglers and other criminal elements he consorts with.

On April 16, 2008, Guyana ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Guyana is neither a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nor a signatory to OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Guyana is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption on December 11, 2000.

The World Economic Forum, “Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016,” identified inefficient government bureaucracy as the largest obstacle to doing business in Guyana, followed by corruption. Corruption discourages potential foreign direct investments and foreign investors, and it also undermines economic development and growth.

In July 2016 a police investigation found that Omar Shariff, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of the Presidency, had more than 10 billion Guyanese dollars (GYD) ($500 million) in his personal bank accounts. Media reports suggested the money was accumulated through money laundering and tax evasion dealings spanning numerous years. Shariff was placed on annual leave and remained off the job. As of November 2016 there were no reports that a legal case had been made against Shariff.

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Page last modified: 14-05-2017 18:32:53 ZULU