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'Disclosure Three’ May Go Unpunished

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

PUBLIC Disclosure Commission Chairman Myles Laroda yesterday distanced himself from the government’s pledge to prosecute non-compliant parliamentarians, telling The Tribune it is possible no penalties will be exacted.

Mr Laroda maintained that the hardline position taken by the new administration has made a significant impact on the culture of non-compliance that plagued the commission, despite a public outcry for “a pound of flesh”.

“I can’t say because I’m not there and I’m only one voice,” Mr Laroda said, when asked the fate of the remaining three delinquent MPs.

“The other two (PDC) members could decide otherwise. We have always been led by consensus. You’ll have to look at all of the circumstances to see.

Mr Laroda continued: “I don’t have no special knowledge or anything but the prime minister did say in their manifesto that they would amend the (Public Disclosure) Act. We don’t know what the new amendments would be so I think that would be getting ahead.”

When contacted yesterday, Mr Laroda said the remaining two members of the three-person commission had not yet been appointed, adding that he expected to convene a meeting next week once it had been fully constituted.

He suggested that if delinquent MPs become compliant during that period, there may be no need to turn over names to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.

“We are at a point where there is only three people and right now what I think it’s shining a light. Now the public has become aware, they read about it in the papers. Now they start to demand accountability, (prosecution or penalties) there are those who want a pound of flesh but that day (of non-compliance) is at its end, and maybe this situation we will never go back to where people think it’s okay to just disregard the law.”

Mr Laroda continued: “I think people are paying attention, I think the days where you just didn’t do it or nothing happens, no consequences, or just accepted that people will act in a particular way, are over. The new administration has taken its stance, but the public position is they’re not going to accept this type of behaviour. There is a new desire for transparency, you can’t just have a law there and not follow it.”

On June 6, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold told the media that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis had given former and sitting parliamentarians three weeks to file disclosures or face the court for breaking the law.

Present and former parliamentarians and senators, along with senior public officers, are required to submit their disclosures to the PDC by March each year.

The law specifies that persons in breach could face a fine of $10,000, or two years in prison, or both, or confiscation of land if land is involved.

At the time, Mr Newbold said the deadline affected more than 20 MPs, adding that the number of parliamentarians that did not disclose for the entire five years was “not less than six.”

The July 3 timeline set by Dr Minnis for the files to be sent to the Office of the Attorney General expired last week.

Yesterday, Mr Laroda reiterated Mr Newbold’s warning that the PDC will widen its scope to include senior civil servants, who are also required to file by law, but generally do not comply.

“The next thing will be the senior civil servants,” Mr Laroda said. “It’s not only that they don’t do it but there is a small percentage that think they have a right to antagonise the process.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 2 years, 2 months ago

The PDC Chairman seems to be excusing delinquency as a minor matter and treating this rather nonchalantly ........ He is very forgiving and casual in his approach to politicians who are not willing to comply with the rules of disclosure ........ That perspective is troubling

Further ............ are we to assume that once these documents are submitted that they are taken at face value and this is the end of the story????? ........ There are too many gray areas that may excuse these politicians who like to operate in the gray zone (no pun intended)

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! The four-member Public Disclosure Commission remains nothing but a political smokescreen aided and abetted by- "It's the Red Government's "4th" time......returning to poor performance governing."

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proudloudandfnm 2 years, 2 months ago

Man. Screw excuses. What does law say????

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Sickened 2 years, 2 months ago

Jesus I am getting pissed now. This Laroda fella needs to be removed if he is not irate at the lack of disclosure and intends to prosecute people to the fullest extent of the law. If he lets this go unpunished then no-one will be disclosing next year.

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sealice 2 years, 2 months ago

What does the Law say? And how far back can we hold these people accountable? AND who are the tree (3) that didn't comply? Please say perry.......

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Socrates 2 years, 2 months ago

well law or not, i won't be surprised that non-compliant politicians face no action. hope the same law that lets them off will apply to the civil servants too. same ole story in this country, plenty laws and no enforcement.. and we wonder why the place has gone to hell...

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Socrates. I said the second PM Minnis started blowing red smoke about a June 30, 2017 filing deadline that the PM has no authority to charge current or former MP's - that the responsibility fell under the House Speaker's exclusive domain - and the current Speaker has zero authority over any former MP. Case closed. There will NO prosecutions. You would think a sitting MP would step forward to explain why they have not filed? Shut down the useless Public Disclosure Commission's office and save the public treasury the $675,000 it will cost to operate it just for the next 12 months. Comrades. It's Not the People's time...".It's the Red Shirts "4th" time in power to once again Mess Things Up."

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Economist 2 years, 2 months ago

Public Disclosure - Offences 13. (1) Any person who — (a) fails without reasonable cause, to furnish to the Commission a declaration which he is required to furnish in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (b) knowingly makes any false statement in such declaration; (c) fails without reasonable cause to give such information or explanation as the Commission may require under section 6 or 7; (d) after a summary of a declaration has been published in the Gazette pursuant to section 6(2), publishes any statement whatever challenging the accuracy of that summary or the honesty or credibility of the declarant, otherwise than by way of complaint to the Commission; (e) makes any frivolous, vexatious or groundless complaint to the Commission in relation to a summary of a declaration; (f) fails without reasonable cause to attend an enquiry being conducted by the Commission under section 7; or knowingly gives any false information in such enquiry, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction on information, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both such fine and imprisonment, and where public the offence involves the deliberate non-disclosure of the property of a Senator or Member of Parliament, the court shall, in addition to the imposition of a fine or term of imprisonment or both — (i) if the property involved is situate within The Bahamas, declare that it be forfeited to the Government; (ii) if the property involved is situate outside The Bahamas, order that an amount equivalent to the value of such property (the value to be assessed as directed by the court), be paid by the Senator or Member of Parliament to the Government. (2) Payment of all sums due to the Government pursuant to paragraph (ii) of subsection (1) may be enforced in like manner as a debt due to the Government and any proceedings thereon on behalf of the Government may be taken summarily, without limit of amount.

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Economist, there's one legal obstacle steering you in the face - "d) after a summary of a declaration has been published in the Gazette pursuant to section 6."
There hasn't been nothing published on MP's Financial Discoursers in the Gazette, for over 5-years? All the legal jargon you can quote is still subject to being put to the test before a Judge. Take it from the Comrade, there will be NO former MP prosecutions by Minnis, Carl, or any Commissioner. None. Period. Got it?

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 2 months ago

Why is the Tribune not allowing commentary on the recent bribery and extortion case and the rogue MPs who did not disclose?????? ......... More handcuffs need to be ordered for the ex-PLP Ministers ............ The Minnis Doctrine will clean up the government's system of corruption

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade SheepRrunner, you couldn't fill a empty phone booth with those who object to the new prime minister's promises to do his best to stamp out public corruption by elected and appointed government officials. But yellow and Red T-shirts are equally as corruptible - so we shall see how the next 5-years fans out when it comes to he own kinds... and some them ain't be trusted be around anything not nailed or crazy-glued to the public treasury's vault's cement floor ..... period?

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DDK 2 years, 2 months ago

Not even allowing commentary on Brave Davis's comments! Getting to be like the media in the Land of the Free across the pond to the N.W.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

They closed it because some of the comments were borderline and they don't want to be held in contempt. The Minnis doctrine will make unethical people find different ways to cheat the system. The only solution is to stop electing unqualified, unethical, money loving people to parliament. Not sure how that happens because the entire culture is corrupted with get money at any cost syndrome. People are mad at Ash and Gibson and Dorsette, but if given a chance to make 1.8 million in a similar fashion in a few months, how many would have taken it? Would be easier to count the ones who wouldn't. That is our problem.

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 2 months ago

If elections was in May , why do we care who were to disclose in March? Are they sitting?

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

Because their theft hurt the country and in turn our pockets. I'm still hesitant about the over emphasis on punishing people without matching or greater emphasis on the way forward.I don't think its wise

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sealice 2 years, 2 months ago

This is BULLSHITe!!!! non-compliance = lose your seat and pay the fine... do not collect 200 go str8 to jail..... you were not a good boy yo mama can't help you now....

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licks2 2 years, 2 months ago

The net has closed on one popular radio man. . .one doc. . .and on one who turned rich fast fast. . .ladies and gentlemen. . .I told yinna the doc een playing with nobody!! Thisisours. . .you don't read the news papers aye? They told us the new acts they are working on now to make sure this "wholesale tiefin" don't happen again!! THIS DA PEOPLES DEM TIME!!!

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 2 months ago

There will be tangible, long-term changes in the political culture of the country as a result of this Minnis Doctrine .......... We have seen this before in the "sunshine cultural shift" in the Ingraham Doctrine ........... Minnis will take our country beyond the political "old boys' club" that has resisted institutional change since modern Bahamian government began in 1964...... Can't Wait!!!!!!!

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