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Stabroek News

Bank secrecy rules to be reviewed
published: Saturday | May 3, 2008

Edmond Campbell, News Coordinator

THE GOVERNMENT has signalled that the rules governing secrecy, as it relates to banker/client relationships, will be reviewed when a joint select committee of Parliament examines the proposed whistle-blower legislation.

A green paper on the proposed law was tabled last month in Parliament, allowing members of the public to submit recommendations and comment on the draft provisions in the bill.

In a statement to the Senate yesterday, Attorney General and Justice Minister, Dorothy Lightbourne, said whistle-blower law was being adopted internationally and was widely regarded as a vital tool in the fight against corruption.

Leader of Opposition Business, Senator A.J. Nicholson, questioned whether provisions in law dealing with secrecy between banker and client would be debated under the whistle-blower legislation.

Conventions against corruption

Responding, Senator Lightbourne said Jamaica entered into certain conventions against corruption, adding that the law relating to secrecy between banker and client was now being reviewed under these conventions.

Debate on the whistle-blower legislation comes at a time when FirstCaribbean Bank and a former executive have been slapped with a $30-million lawsuit by Colin Campbell, a former Cabinet minister under the People's National Party administration.

Campbell is seeking damages for breach of confidentiality between banker and client, arising from the leaking of information on accounts he held at the bank to the Jamaica Labour Party.

Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that two bills to establish an independent commission to investigate excesses by the security forces and to create the office of a special prosecutor to probe corruption in the public and private sectors, were ready to be tabled.

Opposition Senator KD Knight questioned whether the office of the special prosecutor would find itself in a competing role with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

However, Senator Lightbourne said the commission would relieve the DPP of some of the cases in the office.

"All these complaints and acts of corruption were just piling up and nothing was happening," said Lightbourne.

"This is a move now to do something positive and for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to get on with what they are supposed to do, and that is to prosecute," she said.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com

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