Sat | May 30, 2020

Last pick for Christie corruption team identified

Published:Friday | May 22, 2020 | 12:26 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

The front-line anti-corruption team is now in place, with one exception. The director of information and complaints has been identified and is now awaiting appointment, retired Justice Seymour Panton, chairman of the Integrity Commission, has said.

“We have already settled on that individual, but he is outside the borders, and we don’t want him to have to be quarantined. In any event, there is no plane to bring him in, and he is not on any ship,” the chairman quipped.

In an interview earlier this week, Panton told The Gleaner that by early July, the director of complaints should be appointed and will take up his position with the Integrity Commission.

“Meanwhile, we will be moving full speed ahead under the direction of Mr (Greg) Christie,” he added.

Christie took up his post as executive director on Monday after being sworn in by the governor general.

Kevon Stephenson, a former senior investigator and director of evaluation and standards at the Independent Commission of Investigations, was also sworn in by the governor general at the Oxford Road offices of the commission via videoconference.

Keisha Prince, who was seconded from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to do a six-month stint as director of corruption prosecutions, has now been installed in the position.

Prince subsequently applied for the prosecutorial job and was given the nod after being interviewed by FocalPoint Consulting Limited, the company that won the bid to conduct vetting for the post.

LETHARGIC APPROACH

The commission has faced criticism for what some believe has been its lethargic approach to fighting corruption, a claim that has been dismissed by Panton.

Resignations from the ranks of its commissioners and former acting director of corruption prosecutions, Dirk Harrison, last year, also sparked concerns that all was not well at the corruption watchdog.

“A lot of people don’t realise that there are things that we could not do until there was parliamentary approval. One of them was the question of our budget. We had, first of all, to get the structure organised. Then we had to procure for the body that was to organise the structure,” he said.

Following that exercise, Panton said that the commission had to take proposals to the minister of finance then to Parliament.

“We were not in a position to start moving until the 30th of July last year. And, you will recall that in July, August, and September, we were without a chairman because the chairman resigned, and no appointment was made until I was appointed in October,” he added.

With the appointment of Wayne Powell on March 27, the Integrity Commission has completed its slate of commissioners. The commission is chaired by Panton, with other commissioners being Pamela Monroe Ellis, the auditor general; Justice Lloyd Hibbert; and chartered accountant Eric Crawford.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com