Sat | Sep 25, 2021

HOUSE CLEANSING

Parliamentarians reported for illicit enrichment, false statutory declarations

Published:Wednesday | July 7, 2021 | 12:11 AM

Two parliamentarians and six public officials have been referred for prosecution for allegedly providing false information to the Integrity Commission in their statutory declarations.

In its annual report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the Integrity Commission also reported that two parliamentarians and six public officials are currently being investigated for illicit enrichment.

In line with convention, the persons were not named in the report.

The Integrity Commission Act, 2017 (Section 43 (2) (b) states that any person who knowingly gives false information at an enquiry being conducted by the director of investigation commits an offence, and is liable, on summary conviction in a parish court, to a fine not exceeding $2 million or up to two years in prison.

Further, the Corruption Prevention Act, 2001 also states that any person who knowingly makes any false statement in any such statutory declaration commits an offence. The convict could be fined up to $1 million or sentenced for a term not exceeding two years. Convicts might be both fined and imprisoned.

The report did not clarify whether the parliamentarians facing prosecution were the same ones under investigation for illicit enrichment.

The two lawmakers and six public officials now being probed by the investigation division of the Integrity Commission had allegedly breached Section 14 of the Corruption Prevention Act, 2001.

In terms of illicit enrichment, Section 14 (5) (a) and (b) states that where a public servant owns assets disproportionate to his lawful earnings; and upon being requested by the commission or any person duly authorised to investigate an allegation of corruption against him, to provide an explanation as to how he came by such assets, he fails to do so; or gives an explanation which is not considered to be satisfactory, he shall be liable to prosecution for the offence of illicit enrichment.

The law states that it shall be a defence to a person charged with an offence of illicit enrichment to show the court that he came by the assets by lawful means.

The anti-corruption watchdog also reported that 27 public officials and five parliamentarians were offered the opportunity to discharge liability for non-compliance with reporting requirements under the law. Fines slapped on the delinquent public officials and parliamentarians amounted to $8 million.

Over the period 2020-2021, the commission said that 42 allegations of conflict of interest, corruption, fraud, impropriety, and contracts and procurement breaches were referred to its investigation division.

For the reporting period, the investigation division referred 10 special reports of investigations to the corruption prosecution division for ruling as well as 46 financial investigation matters.

The information and complaints division reported 33 public servants to the corruption prosecution division for various statutory declaration breaches.

In 24 of those matters, it was determined that a notice to discharge liability of the offences identified should be issued to those declarants. The action is considered a disciplinary measure.

editorial@gleanerjm.com