Bernard Kerik Named Security Adviser in Guyana

Guyana's president has hired former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik as a state security adviser despite criticism in this South American country over his record of alleged ethics violations.

Kerik will begin a one-year contract as an adviser to President Bharrat Jagdeo and the national security ministry at the start of February, Jagdeo said late Thursday.

Jagdeo acknowledged the controversy surrounding Kerik's background, but said his skills could help Guyana stop drug traffickers who use the English-speaking country as a base for smuggling.

In September, Jagdeo said he wanted Kerik to lead an overhaul of the country's police department. But in remarks to reporters Thursday, he did not describe Kerik's responsibilities. He said the contract would not be paid from a US$20 million loan Guyana received from the Inter-American Development Bank to reform its security services.

Kerik gained prominence in the United States while leading the New York Police Department's response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. President George W. Bush nominated him for Homeland Security chief in 2004, but Kerik withdrew after acknowledging he had not paid enough taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

Last year, Kerik pleaded guilty to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from a company that was trying to do business with New York City while he was corrections commissioner.