Former Lucea mayor in court today
Shernet Haughton, the embattled former People’s National Party (PNP) mayor of Lucea, has been summoned to appear in court today for breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act.
Haughton is expected to face the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, charged, on two counts, with failing to file statutory declarations for 2012 and 2013 in the time stipulated by law.
The former mayor and her successor, Wynter McIntosh, were charged last May after the Corruption Prevention Commission (CPC) reported them to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for failing to make their statutory declarations on time.
McIntosh was fined a total of $25,000 for failing to file declarations over a five-year period between 2007 and 2011.
However, law-enforcement sources revealed that for months, Haughton “could not be located”.
In that time, one source added, the former mayor’s declarations were filed.
“That does not absolve her of her obligations under the law, which requires that the declarations be done by March 31 of the following year,” the source explained.
Haughton, who stepped down as mayor amid allegations of nepotism, has already been charged with breach of the government procurement regulations and misconduct in public office.
The charges follow a probe by the Office of the Contractor General into the award of 22 government contracts valued at $3.7 million to several relatives by the Hanover Parish Council.
She is also facing a fresh probe by the contractor general’s office over the purchase of the motor vehicle that was assigned to her. According to the oversight agency, the sale is in breach of the Government’s Revised Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Policy for the Public Sector.
Haughton is among 26 persons being hauled before the court today for failing to file statutory declarations. The others are all members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and include one constable, who, it is alleged, has failed to file any declaration for 13 years.
The CPC requires that each year, several categories of public-sector employees must provide the CPC with all particulars of their assets, liabilities and incomes, as well as those of their spouses and children, where applicable.
However, the CPC, which was created in 2001 to help stamp out corruption in the public sector, has revealed that the number of public servants flouting this requirement has jumped from 25 per cent at the end of December 2003 to 52 per cent as at December 2012.
In its 2012-2013 report to Parliament, the CPC revealed that 16,216 of the 31,132 eligible public-sector employees did not file a statutory declaration for 2012.
According to the report, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Jamaica Defence Force, Tax Administration Jamaica, the University of Technology, and the Ministry of Education accounted for the largest number of outstanding declarations.