The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 1

Didn’t we all grow up understanding that bribes and payoffs – – by whatever name or rationale – – were bad? And that people were supposed to be the focal point of society, not money?” ― Ray Bourhis, Revolt: The Secession of Mill Valley

The current governing administration is persuaded that anti-corruption and transparency in public affairs merit a statute prohibiting and criminalizing any behaviour that would offend these ideals. To its credit, it has sought to engage formal public discourse on the matter, a national conversation, if you will, by convening a select committee of Parliament to entertain oral and written submissions from individual and corporate members of the public on the adequacy of the text of the proposed legislation.

Two observations need to be made in limine [from the beginning] in this context. The first is that a form of such legislation already exists in the Prevention of Corruption Act 1929, a statute that, as recent events demonstrate, already criminalizes the cruder form of corruption; bribery, even though it is cribbed, cabined and confined by the relatively minor nature of the offence; a misdemeanour, the comparatively mild, although not entirely lenient nature of its penalties on conviction (a) to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine of two thousand four hundred dollars or to both such imprisonment and fine; and

(b) To be ordered to pay to such body, and in such manner as the court directs, the amount or value of any gift, loan, fee or reward received by him or any part thereof; and

(c) to be adjudged incapable of being elected or appointed to any public office for seven years from the date of his conviction and to forfeit any such office held by him at the time of his conviction”

and the restrictive nature of the mode and time limit for its prosecution in certain cases in that first, “a prosecution for an offence under this Act shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions” and, second. that “proceedings instituted with a view to obtaining a summary conviction for an offence under this Act may be commenced at any time before the expiration of six months after the first discovery of the offence by the prosecutor”.

The second observation relates to the rather earthier point that it ought to be recognized that legislation by itself is ineffective to prevent corruption or any other form of criminal conduct. As the text of the epigraph above suggests, we, certainly those of my generation and then environment, all grew up understanding that certain things, including your good name and that of your family, were not for sale at any price. We did not need to be reminded that selling your trust for a mess of filthy lucre bordered on criminality or infringed a statute. I suppose we were too poor to know otherwise.

Given the failings of the existing legislation identified above, a new statute, the Integrity in Public Life Act, has been drafted that is more comprehensive in its formulation to prevent public corruption.

That Act, still in draft Bill form, grandly purports in its statement of Objects and Reasons its intention to establish a regime, including an integrity commission, to “promote the integrity of persons in public life and strengthen measures for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of acts of corruption”. [Emphasis added].

I propose, over the next few columns, to analyze the draft Bill for the benefit of my readers. I shall do so through (i) an examination of the nature, form and function of the Commission, (ii) the mandated declarations of financial affairs; (iii) the treatment of gifts; (iv) what constitutes an act of corruption; (v) the contents of the Code of Conduct in public life and (vi) the Act’s provision for whistleblower protection.

Clause 3 of the Bill establishes the Integrity Commission, while the First Schedule stipulates its composition and other matters. The proposed Commission comprises six individuals as listed, paying due deference to the skills that would ordinarily be associated with the forensic detection and determination of acts of corruption. Thus there is a designated position of a chartered or certified accountant, a retired judge, a senior attorney at law and two individuals in effect selected by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition respectively.

I am minded to question the stipulation that there must be a member of the Clergy on the Commission, although I suppose that this provision is a sop to the moral nature of integrity. Which leads inexorably to the issue of whether the legal and accounting functions are not more competently treated by the members of the staff of the commission rather than have the membership of the Board of the Commission itself consist of individuals skilled in these areas. On this argument, the sole qualification for membership of the Board should be a perception of personal integrity rather than possession the forensic skills necessary to root out corruption. The patent attempt to constitute a politically bipartisan Commission is to be commended.

As I similarly found to my chagrin when I chaired the Fair Trading Commission, the text of the Bill in its present form fails to make an adequate differentiation between the Board or the directors of the Commission and the staff of the Commission itself, using the omnibus expression “the Commission” to cover both.

For instance, Clause 4 (1)(c) of the Bill provides the following as a function of the Commission-

to make inquiries and carry out investigations as it considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of a declaration, statement of registrable interests or report of a gift filed under this Act…”

It is at least doubtful whether the members listed in the First Schedule will perform these duties personally. Yet, according to the definition section, these individuals are precisely the ones referred to as the Commission. I consider that there is a need for a redrafting in this regard if only for the purposes of clarity. The Commission is not solely the Board that is targeted rather to providing general oversight of the stipulated functions by the staff.

113 comments

  • sirfuzzy (i was a sheep some years ago; not a sheep anymore)

    What you need is for the Mia government to create regulatory bodies…one for the Bar and its lawyer members and swift justice should be meted out to their corrupt tiefing lawyers ..and if the nuisance ya now have as AG pulls a Donville or Adriel Nitwit…he too should end up in ankle bracelets..

    So what incentive does she have to do this; being a lawyer and Qc herself, and surrounded by senior ministers who happen to be lawyers(QCs) as well

    Which AG will presiding over the drafting of this legislation, and then push the version WARU prefers thru the lower and upper chamber without substantial changes being made to water down the original language and intent? If you know of such an Ag(person) then he/she must not be a bajan lawyer or lawyer at all; and therefore cannot be an AG as you must be a lawyer to hold such a posit in cabinet..

    We live in hope

    Hope is a city in Hempstead County in southwestern Arkansas, United States.

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  • “Wasn’t the judge a lawyer at some point in their legal career?”

    That’s why ALL the judges must be watched very closely and carefully…they can thank Worrell and the other judges whose names are calling in bribery for that, all of them need investigating and so too all the lawyers, but there is no one on the island to do it…in case Mia is pretending not to notice…this is going to tear down he government…she ought to remember..the electorate will ALWAYS have the final say..

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  • Ah hope Donville Inniss is looking down at his pretty ankle bracelet tonight and remembering what he did to his own people…the lowlife.

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  • @ sirfuzzy
    Correct me if i am wrong. Wasn’t the judge a lawyer at some point in their legal career?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    You are right…
    So what?

    Were most good cops not bullies at school?
    Were YOU not a sheep….?

    Systems and structures – WHEN PROPERLY PUT TOGETHER – trumps individual weaknesses in organisational management.
    This is why Credit Unions work in Barbados (despite the brass bowls that run them)

    BTW
    Hope is well placed when constructed around the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

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  • Trust Bushie on this sirfuzzy

    ONLY professionals within these highly technical fields will have the competence, knowledge, confidence, experience, and the BALLS to deal with unethical professional behaviour in that field…once the right SYSTEMS are put into place.

    Try getting a bunch of patients to control professional behaviour in doctors….
    or non-accountants to supervise ethics in accounting…

    It will NEVER work…
    This system of having professional bodies perform these responsibilities within their areas if speciality works better than ANY other system,…and it works globally.

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  • So question to Jeff…can the GG who has supreme power given by the constitution direct the Chief Justice to disbar these rotten lawyers who defile the Supreme Court…without having to go through an 8 year disciplinary side show and court case inclusive of the court of appeals

    Not at all, WARU. The separation of powers doctrine mandates that no member of the Executive may direct the CJ or any member of the judiciary as to a desired course of action.

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  • Thanks for that info..Jeff

    Let’s hope to see a regulatory body created for lawyers AND the constitution amended to include such a body in our lifetime.

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  • No wonder Amused vehemently opposed the current Chief Justice who apparently forgot that were he still in NYC working in their legal system..he could never be this ineffective..

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  • “That’s when a request for assistance under an agreement called a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

    “St. Lucian authorities believe that the facts are indicative of a criminal agreement between Assenza and public officials in the government of St. Lucia regarding this public works project,” ”

    If Mia really wants help from US with bribery corruption and the state of the Judiciary…she can get it..any government in the Caribbean requesting such assistance could get it….but the last government was too steeped in corruption to even request that help, so let’s see what Mia does..

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ Mariposa

    Well looka muh crosses for me doah!

    You see de Stoopid Cartoon dat de BLP mek bout “de debt dat got Mia at the IMF doorstep?

    Mariposa whuloss!!

    When de ole man see dat de ole man said to meself “meself” I said, “write to Mariposa immediately and see if you would lend you the same lawyer you wants to use to sue me for using the Stoopid Cartoons concept!!!”

    Girl dem using de ole man puerile ideas (Enuff of Lorenzo duo call dem dat and you know that Enuff of Lorenzo would know)

    Speaking of Enuff if Lorenzo duo girl you and WARU run off dat man from BU when wunna tag team his as.s pun his endorsement of dem two teives Pain and Teets.

    You got he catspraddle about Pain non existent credentials yo practice in Scotland and Wales and Pain illegal action of selling de people land without dem permission.

    Girl you becoming a regular sensation bout here championing te cases if the needs and the voiceless (albeit contra Mia Mao ZeJong)

    I only pray that you have a similar feeling and speak out equally against Michael Carry a ton away.

    But you can give me your lawyer s names? Cause dem tekking de ole man idea too far.

    I wonder where dem getting de ideas from bout de graphics and images?

    And dem get a specific voice that is not bajan.

    That is a Mia Mao ZeJong idea though she is the only one in the party with that sort of sense…So she is instructing them in their psyche war campaign.

    The images are clean and synched professionally.

    The timing is within the attention span range so that means we have engages a new team member/entity with some sort of acute vision

    @ chairman Ze Jong

    Not bad at all.

    But you still have “the accursed thing” in your household and because of that you will not have any progress with the IMF.

    In time you will learn that you cannot serve two masters Mia.

    This is why even though I ask for ***, if it is done that is good BECAUSE THEY ARE SO ENTITLED BY LAW, but if ***, you realise that it is ok too, because my God is an awesome God (as you have seen by now) and he provides all things.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch

    I noted that you have reverted to this Integrity in Public Life Bill

    I should use another verb instead of reverted because it imputed a reflexive for the subject and you were not discussing the substantive topic before.

    So forgive me. (“Why did that man not just change the verb and cut out all the long talk?” Because it is my style)

    You have a very distinctive style oh Luminary

    Each topic here narrated DEVOID of emotion but yet quietly emotive.

    Look at the way you crafted that last paragraph!

    Masterful.

    De ole man reviewed my own line by line examination of the same text and realized even though I had seen it I DID NOT SEE THAT NUANCE.

    True I had made that fox counting the chickens remark passingly BUT I HAD NOT PAUSED AS DELIBERATELY AS YOU HAVE DONE TO EXPLAIN TO EVERY SINGLE READER including he of the adipose lips supplication Enuff of Lorenzo duo, the true state of this pernicious Enabling Act of 1933.

    And that is why de ole man respects you so.

    Because in the face of all the genuflection to Mia Mugabe and her horde you have come here IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF HER RETICULE and said “this law is flawed For these various reasons” while the ole man seems to emote with my Hitlerian drivel.

    I pray that these sheeple around YOU OR WHOM I NUMBER FIRST, can not only see what you are writing, but they take the time to assimilate what you are saying AND REFUSE TO LET MIA AMIR MOTTLEY INFLICT THIS HITLERIAN ACT ON US in the clear light if day

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ the Honourable Blogmaster your assistance please with 2 items one for Mariposa and the other for the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch. Thank you

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  • “Speaking of Enuff if Lorenzo duo girl you and WARU run off dat man from BU when wunna tag team his as.s pun his endorsement of dem two teives Pain and Teets.”

    Lol..my boyfriend Enuff will be back…his best buddy Vivek is working on the government, asserting his ownership of the Transport Board…showing Mia who is really boss….and allowing her to know his snitches are well placed insude Transport Biard..haha haha. .

    …so Enuff will not be able to resist jumping out on BU..in whatever role…he now has a conflict…loyalty to his buddy Vivek…or loyalty to Mia…interesting days ahead…lol murdahhh!!!!!

    Like

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