MORE COPS TO BE HAULED BEFORE COURTS - Police officers head list of public-sector workers who shun filings
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
With police personnel accounting for the highest number of public-sector employees who have ignored their obligations to file annual statutory declarations, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has begun a crackdown on delinquent members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
After hauling 48 rank-and-file personnel - with ranks ranging from constable to senior superintendent - before the courts on Monday, the commission warned yesterday that it is now preparing summonses to take similar action against another group of police personnel next month.
"We are going to carry a few more on the 17th of June," an official at the commission told The Gleaner yesterday.
Of the 48 JCF members taken before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court, 33 pleaded guilty and were fined a total of $276,000. The others are scheduled to return to court on June 17.
DECLARATION MANDATED BY LAW
Under the Corruption (Prevention) Act 2000, over 25,000 public-sector employees and officials are required to file annual statutory declarations of their assets and business interests.
In its latest annual report released in 2011, the commission revealed that since January 2003, there were some 69,086 outstanding declarations, with the police responsible for 24,698.
The Commission for the Prevention Corruption official revealed that the figures for 2012 are now being tabulated, but indicated that the delinquency rate among the police is in line with the 39 per cent recorded for other public-sector employees.
Senior Superintendent Michael James, a former head of the Police Officers' Association, said while the practice may have been prevalent among gazetted officers in the past, that is no longer the case.
James revealed that after a group of officers were taken before the courts last year for the same offence, the Police High Command began insisting that members fulfil their legal obligations.
He said compliance with the Corruption (Prevention) Act was also listed as one of the prerequisites for advancement in the JCF.
"So for the current period, it is very unlikely that you would find any gazetted officer who has not made his or her return," James said.
The official at the Commission for the Prevention Corruption confirmed that the initiative was instituted and praised Police Commissioner Owen Ellington for putting measures in place to encourage greater compliance by the men and women under his command.
"He has put in a system where they have to show that they have filed their last two declarations to be eligible for promotions," said the official.
A customs officer with known income of less than $1 million per annum filed declarations indicating that his assets had grown in excess of $12 million over the period 2003-2007. This included an investment of more than $7 million in an unregulated investment scheme. He subsequently pleaded guilty and was fined $700,000 on one count of illicit enrichment and $100,000 each on three counts of making a false statement on a declaration.
Between 2003 and 2007, an assistant parish manager at the National Works Agency (NWA) failed to declare income from his interest in a company that performed contractual duties with the NWA. (Among the duties of an assistant parish manager is to award small contracts and certify the work done by contractors). The officer subsequently pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 for each year.
Between 2003 and 2007, an assistant parish manager with the National Works Agency (NWA) failed to declare three motor vehicles and his interest in a company that performed contractual duties with the NWA. After pleading not guilty, the officer reversed his plea and was fined $50,000 for each year.