The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – On the Prevention of Corruption 5

Of course the proof of the pudding will ultimately lie in the eating, but the Integrity in Public Life is not short on provisions designed to ensure the reduction of opportunities for specified persons in public life to profit from corruption.

In addition to mandating the declaration of particulars by these individuals that we treated at length in the last installment of this piece two weeks ago, the Bill also requires that every Member of Parliament must also file with the Commission a statement of registrable interests that must be kept by the Commission in a Register of Interests. The content of this statement is catalogued at Clause 38 of the Bill and appears calculated to disclose the trading and commercial interests of the member and of his or her spouse and children. Oddly enough, it also includes at sub-sub-clause g-

“…particulars of any political, trade or professional association to which the person belongs…”

Since, as has been observed before, the legislation does not attempt to engage with an eminently possible source of political corruption; that of the electoral campaign financing of political parties, this particular appears anomalous in a group comprised of existing directorships, beneficial interests in land, and investments in corporate entities, among others. Even odder still is the provision in Clause 38 (2) that appears at first blush to defeat the purpose of the inquiry itself –

Nothing in this section shall be taken to require disclosure of the actual amount or extent of any financial benefit, contribution or interests.

Thus the statement alone of the interest suffices for the purpose, although it is not immediately clear, at least to this writer, how a determination of corruption might be made in the absence of an increase in the value of a particular interest.

One possible explanation for this might be the provision in Cl. 39(2) that permits the Register to be inspected by any member of the public. The need to preserve the privacy of the member, it would appear, clearly outweighs the detection of an increase in the unexplained value commercial holdings by the MP.

As it is with the declaration of assets, the Commission is empowered to request further information on the statement, although this must be read subject to Clause 38 (2) cited above, and may conduct an inquiry to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure as stipulated.

As a matter of drafting style, the Bill introduces the notion of a prohibited interest almost by stealth in Clause 40 (2) without prior warning or definition until it does so belatedly in Clause 42.

According to the former clause,

Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), where the Commission is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate has failed to comply with the requirements for the registration of interests under this Part or that such member has acquired a prohibited interest… [Emphasis added]

Clause 42 later defines a prohibited interest as one where-

  1. (a)  the member has notified the Commission of the interest as required by this Act; and

(b)  the Commission is of the opinion that the interest

(i)  is unlikely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct; or

(ii)  is likely to affect the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct but that the member, his spouse or child, as the case may be, has divested himself of the interest or has placed it in a blind trust on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate.

The Bill additionally creates a number of offences in connection with the failure to file the statement; filing a knowingly incomplete statement or one that is materially false in any particular; a failure to comply with a request of the Commission and a failure without reasonable cause to attend an inquiry called by the Commission and to furnish any requested information or knowingly giving any false or incomplete information in response at the inquiry –Clause 43 (1).

Once again, it bears remarking that the primary monetary fine for these offences on summary conviction is a scarcely dissuasive $ 15 000; a sum worth significantly less in today’s coinage than the fine under the 1929 Prevention of Corruption Act.

However it is possible for this penalty to be enlarged upon by the flouting of the magistrate’s order to make a full disclosure of the property. By clause 43-

Where an offence referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b) involves the non- disclosure, by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate, of property which should have been disclosed in a statement of registrable interests, the magistrate shall order the member to make full disclosure of the property within a specified period.

Where a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate fails to comply with an order made pursuant to subsection (2) within the specified period, the offence referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the member shall be liable to a further fine of $3 000 for each day on which the offence continues.

Arguably, even more dissuasive still is the punishment prescribed by Clause 44-

A member of the House of Assembly or the Senate who is convicted of an offence under section 36 or 43 is liable, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction for the offence.

I propose to conclude this series next week with an examination of the treatment of gifts, the definition of acts of corruption, and analyses of the Code of Conduct and of the Bill’s protection afforded to whistleblowers.

109 comments

  • GP

    With too much knowledge for the skeptic side; with too much weakness for the stoic pride; born but to die; reason but to error… and this sums up those of us with our inflated egoes… knowledge is exponential….

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  • After reading Articles 1,2 3, 4 and 5 I have come to one simple conclusion.

    These people are not serious!

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  • @ the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch,

    You said and I quote

    “…Where an offence referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b) involves the non- disclosure, by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate, of property which should have been disclosed in a statement of registrable interests, the magistrate shall order the member to make full disclosure of the property within a specified period.

    Where a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate fails to comply with an order made pursuant to subsection (2) within the specified period, the offence referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the member shall be liable to a further fine of $3 000 for each day on which the offence continues…”

    As de ole man said on Sunday, I would read the article again and get back to you as I started to understand that which i was reading.

    So let me see if i have this “registrable interests” thing correct.

    It is purported that the Prime Minister has interests in the firm Jose & Jose. I have made sure to say purported in this hypothetical example which is only for the purpose of providing an example.

    Let us say that an individual or the Commission does, at a time subsequent to the submission of a disclosure by the Prime Minister, determine that such a “non disclosure has occured” and was perpetuated by the Prime Minister, is de ole man to understand that such would constitute a non disclosure of registrable interests?

    Is de ole man further to understant that she would have to be convicted of the action, and that it would not automatically activate Clause 44, which reads “…A member of the House of Assembly or the Senate who is convicted of an offence under section 36 or 43 is liable, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction for the offence…”?

    Forgive de ole man cause I sort of slow with my assimilation of these things…

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  • @ the Honourable Blogmaster, your assistance please with an item here for the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch thank you

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  • Is de ole man further to understand that she would have to be convicted of the action, and that it would not automatically activate Clause 44, which reads “…A member of the House of Assembly or the Senate who is convicted of an offence under section 36 or 43 is liable, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, to be disqualified from holding any public office for a period of 5 years from the date of conviction for the offence…”?

    Where an offence referred to in subsection (1)(a) or (b) involves the non- disclosure, by a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate, of property which should have been disclosed in a statement of registrable interests, the magistrate shall order the member to make full disclosure of the property within a specified period.

    Where a member of the House of Assembly or the Senate fails to comply with an order made pursuant to subsection (2) within the specified period, the offense referred to in subsection (1) shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the member shall be liable to a further fine of $3 000 for each day on which the offence continues.

    @ Piece, Ultimately,but the provisions referred to above must first be applied…

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  • Corruption by politicians should carry severe penalties because thousands of taxpayers are hurt by the criminal actions of people who were elected with the expectation of “honesty”.

    Any politician convicted of corruption should never be allowed in government again.

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  • @ the Luminary Jeff Cumberbatch

    Thank you very much for the clarification, I try to make sure I understand what is being said at all times.

    I’d Like to suggest something to you for your active consideration.

    The InterAmerican Development Bank and the UN Human Rights Commission are two agencies that are super committed to Good Governance.

    I should like to suggest that you, in your substantive role as Dean at the Cave Hill Faculty might be disposed to make an outreach to either or both to advance a series of Citizen Sensitization Instructional Tools that speak to these and similar issues across the entire Caribbean Region, COMMENCING WITH THE 3 UWI campuses first.

    De Ole Man is thinking along these lines kind sir of a focused series which

    Article 1 Right to Equality
    Article 2 Freedom from Discrimination
    Article 3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
    Article 4 Freedom from Slavery
    Article 5 Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment

    and possibly moving into the whole issue of Rights Guaranteed by a Constitution THAT IS NOT CHANGED ON A WILLY NILLY BASIS JUST TO BRING BACK 3 SENATORS.

    The fact of this matter oh Luminary is that BARRING YOUR VOICE IN THIS WILDERNESS, there is NO OTHER PUBLIC FIGURE with the balls and the principles to open their mouth and say a pang about anything that will be construed as CONTRA MUGABE or the slow dimunition of our Constitutional Rights.

    Sir Hilary has sold out, Come Sing a Song has sold out, Senator Caswell is well….

    Only you remain….

    The fact is that the SOL sellout was thwarted by your intervention alone WHILE YOU WERE AT THE FTC cause de ole man sure that Sandra “the Samsung Lover” while securing a family plan for the rest of the Family, would have caved into the pressure, as she has for the Telecommunications giants over the years, given her lack of vertebrae (I hope i spelt that properly cause Dr. GP going lik me up otherwise)

    The UWI needs to make new outreaches to its constituents that show its pertinence and proactivity to the average man and woman on the street.

    De ole man would love to tell me grandson that there is a project to facilitate that outreach and sensitization of Bajans and regional denizens.

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  • @ Brother Hants

    A brilliant observation.

    Let me suppose that I were Ninjaman and on one given day I went down broad street and stole $5 from five tourists each de ole man would ask you this question

    “how many charges would the Indolent Commissioner of Police arrest me for?

    And, by extension, the equally impotent Director of Public Prosecutions how many charges would she bing against me?

    Would it be that because i effected all of the thefts in one day, I would be charges ONCE for all five crimes OR I WOULD BE CHARGED 5 times?

    These politicians have stolen $$ from every single tax payer in Barbados YET INCREDULOUSLY not one of them has been charged BECUASE MIA CARES!!

    Furthermore, here you have the representative of the highest office in the cuntry, barring the GG, being cuagt teifing AND MIA MUGABE MOTTLEY PASSSING A LAW THAT SAYS, “after 5 years we accord you a forgiveness of sins, and you can run again for parliament to teif again!!”

    Yes sir that makes sense to me.

    Brother Hants DO YOU THINK THAT 80% of the sheeple that voted for Mia Mao Mugabe give a badword about that sentencing fiasco?

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