Failure to declare assets: Integrity Commission to discuss prosecution of Ministers, public officials

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…another list of defaulters to be published

Public officials including ministers and former parliamentarians, who failed to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission, are likely to face prosecution.

Chairman Kumar Doraisami, in an exclusive interview with <<<Inews>>> on Sunday, said the Commission will be discussing the likelihood of prosecuting of these individuals at its next meeting scheduled for February 12.

“We’re having a meeting to decide on that…because the next step is supposed to be prosecution,” Doraisami stated.

Among the list of defaulters are Attorney General Basil Williams, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Karen Cummings, Public Service Minister Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, Social Cohesion Minister Dr George Norton, Junior Minister of Agriculture Valerie Adams-Yearwood, and Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency, Simona Broomes.

Integrity Commission
Chairperson Kumar Doraisami

Other defaulters include Speaker of the House Dr Barton Scotland and Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs.

These persons, including other public officials, failed to declare their assets to the Integrity Commission, as is required by law.

As such, their names were recently published via the official gazette.

However, there is another list of defaulters to be published, Doraisami explained. This list will include persons who would have declared their assets but failed to fortify their particulars.

“The defaulters, there are many more than that [the published list] from both sides of the political divide whereby request for further particulars of those declarations that were filed, those particulars were not fortified by most of the declarants,” the Chairperson explained.

This additional group of defaulters will be up for discussion at the Commission’s next meeting.

Doraisami says the list of defaulters will, likewise, be made public.

Attorney General, Basil Williams

While the law provides for these defaulting individuals to be liable on summary conviction, the Integrity Commission is significantly challenged owing to a lack of resources.

“We don’t have the wherewith right now to do that, we don’t have the resources…So we have to wait until the next meeting to decide how we are going to get the resources to do that,” Doraisami pointed out, expressing hope that the next administration would provide the Integrity Commission with the necessary finances so it could properly execute its work.

The Integrity Commission Act states that those in default “shall be liable, on summary conviction to a fine of $25,000 and to imprisonment for a term not less than six months nor more than one year”.

According to the Chairman, the first order of business would be to publish the names of the defaulters, “then we’ll go ahead and think about prosecution.”

But he explained that prosecution should be the last resort, as the Commission’s duty is “to get them to comply”.

“If they don’t, we will have to enforce the law,” Doraisami said.

In enforcing the law, the Integrity Commission will have to engage with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has already called on the Commission to ensure that this level of “lawlessness” does not go unpunished.

Other defaulters include former government parliamentarians: Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Mervyn Williams, Jennifer Wade, Rajcoomarie Bancroft, John Adams, Richard Allen, Michael Carrington, Jermaine Figueira, Barbara Patricia Pilgrim, Donna Moothoo, Reynard Ward, and Audwin Rutherford.