Georgetown, Guyana; – The apparent delay by the Guyana government to prosecute members and confidantes of the previous government for various financial improprieties, may all be part of a wider plan to facilitate their future extradition and prosecution in the United States.
At least this is the view of a former U.S Justice Department official turned investigative journalist, with ties to the New York Times, and who had previously worked on past high profile extradition cases.
In response to a question posed by the Guyana Guardian, the former official, who requested anonymity, told this publication that all that is occurring in Guyana right now, particularly as it relates to the forensic audits, certainly has all of the hallmarks of an information gathering process that will ultimately benefit the United States.
He drew references to several past cases where former government officials including former Presidents were successfully extradited to the United States after a related pattern of forensic audits that were conducted by a succeeding government.
Pointing out to former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo as a prime example, he stressed that all the United States needs to do is to prove that a single stolen or illegally obtained dollar was funneled through the United States banking system or any other international banking system for the unlawful benefit of an individual or enterprise.
And in Guyana’s case, he suffice that there are several high profile persons and politicians who are already knowingly guilty of this.
Therefore, the information gathering process by Guyana’s SARU, and the ongoing forensic audits are all indirectly intended to first prove that local officials had stolen and then laundered the money in various forms which may sometimes entail them directly and indirectly moving that money through the US banking system.
And the United States will only be able to make several strong cases if they can have access to the information and witnesses that local organizations such as SARU, the GRA and SOCU can provide as supporting evidence.
Questioned on a potential time frame in which an extradition request can be made, he advised that an extradition case can take as many as two to five years to build (or even more).
Hence, it is possible that the United States may be somewhere between two or three years away from actually making any moves to extradite anyone from Guyana, or wherever else they may have fled to; from Guyana.
While the United States does not releases sensitive particulars of an investigation, the Guyana Guardian was reliably informed by a usually credible source within the US Department of Justice, that at least three persons with close ties to the previous government, two gold exporters and two known drug traffickers may be among the first group of persons on the US extradition watch list.
Earlier this year, the United States had indicated in its INCSR report that the new APNU/ AFC government had already promised that they will definitely facilitate the extradition of Guyanese who may be wanted for money laundering, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, and other transnational crimes against the US.
And even though the United States is yet to make an extradition request, insiders are certain that the US Government is currently building multiple cases against persons in Guyana, who they may wish to extradite in the near future.
Others are of the opinion that the APNU/ AFC government might also be working on additional legislations that will make the extradition process a judicially simpler task.
Before now, an apparent local judicial lacuna and an alleged distrust by the United States of the previous PPP/C administration is said to have been the primary reason behind the lull in extradition requests and the non-extradition of high profile persons from Guyana over the past two decades.
Public opinion have often labeled many of these persons as being closely associated with the previous Government, while claiming that the former Minister of Home Affairs was sheltering them against prosecution in the United States.
As such, The US had had to rely heavily on Trinidad and Tobago in the past to assist in its extradition requests for Guyanese nationals, which was only possible if they were traveling through that country.
However, many are hoping that the new government will now directly embrace these requests.
In recent times, former Public Security Minister Clement Rohee, and several other members of Guyana’s opposition have been calling on the new APNU/ AFC government to institute charges against wrong doers if there was indeed any evidence in the forensic audits to prosecute them.
However, the government has remained relatively silent, while current Public Security Minister Kemraj Ramjattan had simply indicated that potential witnesses are scared.
But observers who are knowledgeable about US international investigative processes have told this publication not be fooled by the stillness of the water. Because after all, the depth of what is to come may be deeper than many can dive.
They agreed that the current government’s quietness on the subject of prosecuting wrong doers that are identified in the ongoing forensic audits, may indeed be for a good reason.
After all, their extradition and conviction prospects may be more certain in the United States than in Guyana, where the judiciary is already overburdened with hundreds of backlogged cases, and is sometimes plagued with ridiculously slothful trials, alleged judicial favoritism and accusations of corrupt conduct by underpaid police prosecutors.