Not serious about punishing corruption

Published: Tuesday | December 3, 2013 Comments 0


In your edition of The Gleaner on Thursday, November 28, 2013, you carried an article titled 'Swamp of corruption: Public-sector workers face court as hundreds of cases linger'. The article's first paragraph states:

"Two senior public servants are to be hauled before the court today to respond to corruption charges, a drop in the bucket as the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption struggles to investigate 322 others who are suspected of being in breach of the law."

In its seventh paragraph, the piece states:

"The report showed that up to March last year, the commission was probing the 322 cases, 65 of which were 'closed and no further action taken' because there were no investigators to whom they could be assigned. Twelve cases were sent to the DPP's office for rulings, while the others remain active investigations."

As interesting and appalling as the foregoing sounds, the third to last, and penultimate paragraphs of that piece are the coveted trophy winners. They state:

"Over the last two years, the commission has successfully prosecuted four public officers. Among them was a former customs officer who had an annual salary of just under $1 million, but filed declarations between 2003 to 2007 'showing growth in assets in excess of $12 million'.

"This included investments of more than $7 million in unregulated investment schemes, the commission said, noting that the officer was unable to explain the increase in wealth."

I contend that the Jamaican legislature and the powers that be are not merely joking when it comes to corruption in our country, but, indirectly, by the ineffective current available sanctions, or lack thereof, to attend to such ill-gotten wealth, they are abetting and aiding the proliferation of such illicit wealth accumulation and other illicit activities of a corrupt nature.

If it is found that one has illicitly acquired approximately $12 million in a given period, and the sanctions, for such a corruptive act is for that individual to pay a mere $700,000 in fines with no time in prison, and the ill-gotten wealth is not seized, are these measures not tantamount to slapping a boy on his wrist for constantly breaking the bank and/or hurling rocks at passers-by and cars?

Which sensible individual with criminal intent would desist from doing illegal and criminal acts if the worst that will occur to one's illicit enrichment is that he or she will give up a mere five or six per cent of his/her ill-gotten gain?

Until this new culture and paradigm of turning a blind eye to everything illegal in Jamaica stops, and not only when it directly affects 'me'; all our efforts in education; all the efforts of our mostly hardworking citizenry; all the efforts being expended by those decent members of the police force and military; all the restraints prescribed by our leaders and the IMF in the name of economic growth and the good for all will go to nought.


Toronto, Canada

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