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Corruption prevention body takes 23 illicit enrichment cases before DPP

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 6:06 PMDaraine Luton

The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) has indicated that it reported five cases of illicit enrichment to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in 2013-2014.

Illicit enrichment is the most serious offence under the Corruption Prevention Act.

Three of the five cases involve employees of Jamaica Customs, and one each from the Financial Investigation Division and the National Health Fund.

A total of 23 cases have been referred to the DPP since 2008. The DPP has ruled on eight of these cases, with six taken before the court. Five have resulted in convictions.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting, during a recent parliamentary committee meeting, questioned why so few cases have been brought before the courts, arguing that "this should be one of the easiest offences to prosecute".

"It sort of shifts the burden of proof because if you have a statutory declaration that shows somebody overtime earning X amount, having this relative this modest amount of assets than then suddenly one day they either declare or don't declare, and you discover that they have assets many times the value then the onus is on them to show how they came by that funds or those assets," Bunting argued.

The minister said that the illicit enrichment provision is "a powerful tool" which is not being fully utilised.

"I am struggling to recall a conviction that has resulted in anything more than a fine to the person," Bunting said.

A person found guilty of illicit enrichment is liable, upon conviction in a resident magistrate's court to a fine not exceeding $1 million and or up to two years imprisonment.

In the case of a second or subsequent offence, the fine moves to $3 million.

Conviction in a circuit court attracts a $5-million fine.

Despite high maximum penalties, the court has only imposed penalties amounting to $1.6 million in the five cases that have been concluded since 2008.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com