Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Golding: Integrity body failing to land big prosecutions

Published:Friday | September 16, 2022 | 12:07 AM
People’s National Party President Mark Golding addressing a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s Kingston offices on Wednesday. Looking on are General Secretary Dayton Campbell and Chairman Angela Brown Burke.
People’s National Party President Mark Golding addressing a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s Kingston offices on Wednesday. Looking on are General Secretary Dayton Campbell and Chairman Angela Brown Burke.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding says he is disappointed with the performance of Jamaica’s single anti-corruption body since its establishment in 2018.

Quizzed about his views on critical legislative amendments that the commission has submitted in its annual reports to Parliament to increase the fight against corruption, Golding said he would not comment on those issues at this time. However, he said that the Integrity Commission has not made a significant impact to date.

Golding, who described himself as the architect of the Integrity Commission Act, said the anti-corruption body has not had “any major corruption prosecutions” since it was established.

He said that the Integrity Commission has concentrated primarily on prosecuting public servants for late filings of their statutory declarations.

Golding said that until the commission begins to prosecute people for major acts of corruption, the agency would not have achieved its core mandate.

According to Golding, the Integrity Commission has the right to prosecute corruption with a director of corruption prosecution who is autonomous from interference other than from the director of public prosecutions who, under the Constitution, can stop a prosecution.

“I am disappointed that they are not having more of an impact. I think they are a bit focused on this gag clause urged on by The Gleaner,” Golding said.

“The current system that’s in the law says that while an investigation is pending, they don’t disclose that they are investigating, and then it’s tabled in Parliament when they have completed their investigation it becomes a public document.”

He indicated that the Integrity Commission needed to work more efficiently to deliver on their investigations on a timely basis.

The opposition leader said that the Integrity Commission Act provides for the sharing of information between law-enforcement agencies, the tax department, and the anti-corruption watchdog.

“Before that, there were all sorts of problems and they weren’t sharing information, and that was the reason they were so ineffective,” said Golding.

Golding stressed that the work of the commission is much wider than reviewing statutory declarations.

“They are supposed to be investigating corruption through information and intelligence that reach them about corruption and there is a lot in the public domain that comes at us almost weekly for them to grapple with,” he said.

The Integrity Commission has urged the Parliament to adopt a raft of legislative changes that would assist the anti-corruption body in its fight against corruption.

It has also pressed legislators to amend the so-called gag clause in the Integrity Commission Act that prevents the agency from announcing investigations or providing updates on its probes into alleged acts of corruption.

A joint select committee of Parliament is in the process of reviewing several recommendations and members of the public and other interest groups have been invited to make submissions on amendments to the Integrity Commission Act.

editorial@gleanerjm.com