Our aim is to protect society from extensive, deliberate criminal deception which could threaten public confidence in the financial system. We investigate fraud and corruption that requires our investigative expertise and special powers to obtain and assess evidence to successfully prosecute fraudsters, freeze assets and compensate victims – SFO Serious Fraud Office
Several events have occurred in the last three decades which exposed flaws in governance structures which have served us well; or so it seemed. One example is the meltdown of Wall Street which precipitated the global recession which has been with us for more than two years.
The post mortem of the disaster has revealed that old fashion greed was the motive driving many in decision making positions. The challenge for global societies is the need to have robust regulatory systems which are marshalled in a just matter. For too long our systems of justice appear to be better equipped to punish a certain type of crime especially when it affects the ‘small’ man.
There is a view that enacting Freedom of Information (FOIA) laws will not be enough if we are to judge by those countries which have FOIA on the books. BU believes this to be a defeatist view and we are heartened by the recent action of The Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom by securing its first convictions of fraud against individuals accused of breaching UN sanctions. It should be of interest to Barbadians who had the ‘honour’ of being the first ‘scalp’ of the SFO.
The Telegraph reported yesterday that Charles Forsyth and David Mabey, former directors of engineering firm Mabey & Johnson, were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of breaching sanctions and providing kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s government to secure contracts. Richard Gledhill, another senior executive at the company, gave evidence for the prosecution after pleading guilty. In September, 2007 BU reported that Mabey & Johnson was fined for using poor steel in the Philippines, of interest was the fact Jonathon Danos, CEO of 3S Barbados was a former Sales Executive of Mabey & Johnson. 3S was awarded the contract to build the controversial flyovers along the ABC Highway. The contract with 3S was cancelled by the current government on gaining office and reports are the taxpayers will have to pay a ‘tidy’ sum to 3S in settlement.
There is no evidence to link Jonathon Danos to Mabey & Johnson executives found guilty but in the context of whether watchdog agencies, supported by relevant legislation can be effective, Barbados can take hope by the success of the SFO. BU notes Mabey & Johnson will be appealing the conviction.
All over the world there is evidence that ordinary people are becoming fed up with politicians, financiers and others in authority positions who have been feeding off the system for personal aggrandisement. In Barbados despite the assurance by Transparency International there is good reason to suspect that corruption has penetrated significantly.
Do we know who is responsible for supplying illegal drugs to our children? Where do these people deposit monies collected, in our banks and credit unions?
Do we know who is responsible for approving construction in Zone 1 areas and subdivisions, why do they do it? For example construction in Britton Hill which triggered a disaster.
Why have we ignored the exceptions highlighted by the Auditor General over the years? For example all those companies which over invoice the School Meals Department.
Why are work permits issued to certain people when it is obvious locals are equipped to do the job?
Why has Judge Randall Worrell warned about the need for a witness protection program?
For too long we have been too lenient regarding the actions of our public officials.