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A month after DPP ruling ... Police yet to charge senior Customs employees

Published:Thursday | November 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ruled that two senior civil servants be arrested and charged with illicit enrichment, law-enforcement sources have revealed.

However, nearly one month after both cases were turned over to the police, they have still not been formally charged and placed before the courts.

The names of the two senior public servants are being withheld by law-enforcement officials, but Gleaner sources say they are employed in the Customs Department.

Late yesterday, the DPP's office confirmed that "two files pertaining to illicit enrichment were sent back to the Corruption Prevention Commission nearly a month ago".

"We can't say what the rulings were. You would have to direct those queries to the Commission," a senior person at the DPP's office told The Gleaner.

A senior law-enforcement officer revealed that because of the seriousness of the charges, the files were immediately handed over to the police to have them taken into custody and placed before the court.

Amid concerns that the two civil servants could flee the country, the law-enforcement officer cautioned that the delay could be an attempt to give other state agencies an opportunity to conduct additional investigations.

Several attempts by The Gleaner yesterday to get an explanation for the delay from Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and other top brass of the Jamaica Constabulary Force were unsuccessful.

Assets not supported by income

The cases come six months after The Gleaner first reported that the Corruption Prevention Commission was investigating several public-sector employees whose declared assets were not supported by their income.

Under the Corruption (Prevention) Act 2000, more than 25,000 public-sector employees and officials are required to make annual declarations of their assets and business interests.

However, in May when it made the investigations public, the commission had said "we have discovered that assets are not being declared".

Persons who fail to provide a satisfactory explanation where their declared assets are not supported by their income and/or knowingly make a false statement on their declaration can be prosecuted for illicit enrichment.

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

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

The officer 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 his declaration.