New Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has made his first significant appointment in the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) since coming to power following the June 23 general election.
According to a well-placed source, attorney-at-law Brendon La Touche, a former Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is now the new head of the unit, replacing police officer Inspector Raymond Lockiby who has been acting in the position in recent months.
He said that accountant Kirl-Anne John-Williams, who has been attached to the accounting firm of Pannel Kerr Forster for a number of years, is now the new Deputy Director of the FIU.
The newlook unit comes amidst calls in some quarters of the country for the outfit that was dominated by operatives of the outgoing New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell to launch a full-scale investigation into claims made by new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell about alleged misappropriation of State funds.
Just over a month ago, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell told Grenadians at a Town Hall meeting that US$140, 000.00 from the illegal sale of a diplomatic passport to a Polish national by the former administration ended up in the NNP South St George account.
The new Grenadian leader also intimated that he had reported the matter to the relevant investigative body.
When contacted on whether the FIU had started any investigation into the passport sale money, Insp. Lockiby said his organisation had noted the statement but is not empowered to inform the public on matters under investigation.
The source described the appointment of La Touche as a positive move and in keeping with the law governing the operation of the FIU.
He said despite the change in the hierarchy of the organisation a number of persons considered to be closely aligned to the defeated NNP regime “are still inside there”.
“I guess that they (government) are looking to move them out piece by piece as time goes by,” he remarked.
According to close aides, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell was waiting on the November change in guard in the Public Service Commission (PSC) to avoid a head-on clash with its then Chairperson, former Cabinet Secretary Beryl Isaac to make a number of critical changes within the Public Service, Royal Grenada Police Force and FIU.
The first person to be appointed as the full-fledged Director of FIU was controversial Jamaican attorney-at-law, Hugh Wildman under the 2003-08 NNP government of Dr. Keith Mitchell.
When he left the position after the victory of Congress at the polls in 2008, some changes were made to the law by the new leader, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas especially with the qualification to fill the top post including a new Director but one was never appointed under NNP during its control of the island from 2018 to 2022.
The then Superintendent of Police Tafawa Pierre, the husband of former NNP Education Minister Emmalin Pierre was appointed as Acting Head of FIU for several years but not to the substantive post of Director as he did not meet the qualification which said that the person has to be an attorney-at-law and one with investigative skills.
When Supt. Pierre was transferred from FIU earlier in the year and elevated to the position of Deputy Commissioner of Police, the FIU was then placed under the command of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sheldon Thomas.
Within weeks, ASP Thomas was removed and Insp Lockiby took over the running of the unit.