By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Anti-Corruption Unit is investigating 11 files from various government departments and public corporations, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said yesterday.
The police chief also said he was “not surprised” over allegations of misconduct in the civil service, suggesting that accounts provided by “well-meaning citizens” gave cause for concern.
In an interview with the press on the sidelines of the launch of the RBPF’s annual summer camp Monday at Calvary Bible Church, Commissioner Greenslade said police were now “on track” with its efforts to investigate and prosecute persons accused of corruption, theft and various forms of misappropriation throughout the public sector. His comments came while confirming the creation of an anti-corruption branch in the RBPF.
Earlier this month, the government announced plans to table legislation in the House of Assembly to set up an anti-corruption commission shortly after Parliament’s summer recess.
When asked to clarify the status of the new unit, Commissioner Greenslade stated: “I’ve given (Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle) an attorney-at-law, a very trained veteran detective at the chief superintendent rank…… and several other officers, and they have marshaled their resources and looking now at 11 separate files originating from various departments, various public corporations and departments.”
He later added: “We have any number of officers assigned led by an assistant commissioner, as I said to you before, I am not going to get into specifics and all the minutiae around it except to say that the mandate of the unit is clear.
“I indicated earlier that they have already 11 files in their possession that they are investigating. I receive reports on a daily basis, verbal and written and I am very satisfied that they are making good progress.
“We are anticipating that we will be able to come back to the public real soon and to say some things more decisively, in terms of what will happen with some of these investigations.”
Commissioner Greenslade did not offer any specifics on any ongoing investigations or potential cases that could arise in the future.
He insisted that the creation of the new unit brings to an end the “difficult position” in which he has, in the past, been asked to exist.
According to Commissioner Greenslade, while claims of corruption or misconduct in the public sector are not new, there has often been very little to build a case around or investigate, a situation he described as being “off in the dark, searching around, trying to manufacture things.”
He stated: “You must have complainants in these matters. Someone must be aggrieved in these matters, a formal complaint is made and once that is done, then the law takes its course. There is due process, there is natural justice and a commissioner follows the script of the law. So, I think we are on track now.
“We are doing some good things. We have done good things before. And we hope that, again, that we can come to you as a press and (bring) something at some future point.”
With respect to the scope of charges that could be sought by the unit in the coming weeks, Commissioner Greenslade said officials are looking at a “wide range” of issues that could result in various charges.
He told reporters that to date, claims of stealing and misappropriation of funds are being investigated to bring about the relevant charges and appropriate resolutions.
“You have any number of issues when you start to look at a corruption investigation and when you look at corruption investigations you can’t divorce from it issues like stealing, the misappropriation of funds; all of those things are a part and parcel to what we do in an investigation,” he stated.
“But there is a lot of work to be done and I wish to tell you that this, in my mind, will move in to the private sector, not just public and government, but even in to the private sector.”
In keeping with its campaign promise to wipe out malfeasance in government and increase transparency, the Free National Movement administration pledged last month in the Speech from the Throne to create and enforce anti-corruption legislation for parliamentarians and public officers.
In addition to legislation, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold has also announced the government’s plans to have three persons travel to Singapore and the United Kingdom to “observe their anti-corruption commissions” to help determine how the Bahamas’s unit will be set up.