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Five Years And No Disclosures

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE repeated calls for parliamentarians to submit annual financial declarations as mandated by law, Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Chairman Myles Laroda said yesterday that there is a handful of officials who did not make a single disclosure for the entire five-year term of the Christie administration.

Mr Laroda would not disclose the list of delinquent politicians but noted that they included members of both the former governing party, the Progressive Liberal Party, and the Free National Movement, which served as the Official Opposition until the May 10 general election.

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

Yesterday, Mr Laroda underscored the critical need to bolster the independence of the PDC, which he explained did not have the “teeth” needed to hold officials accountable for non-compliance.

“There were certain members who didn’t disclose at all for the whole five-year period and as a commission we felt that both the PM and leader of opposition should be notified,” he said. “That was totally disrespectful of the process where we have leaders of the country who don’t feel they should have to disclose. You should lead by example.

“The former leaders they were all compliant but there were some members on both sides who did not declare at all.”

According to the Public Disclosure Act, a summary of the declarations shall be published in a gazette and any person who does not comply with the law is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.

Since his transfer to the post in 2015, Mr Laroda said the commission has written numerous letters to delinquent officials, and even wrote to former Prime Minister Perry Christie and then Official Opposition Leader Dr Hubert Minnis seeking an intervention.

“We’re not an independent office,” he said, “and we basically have no teeth. We can do nothing else other than write to the leader. We don’t even gazette the disclosures, it’s sent to the Cabinet Office and they’re responsible for that. We have no budget.

“We should show respect for our institutions. The vast majority have declared and consistently but there are a small number of those that are only done partially, and then a smaller number yet who did not declare at all and that was very frustrating.

“We took the position that we would write them,” he said, “and in some cases I would have phoned myself, or if I saw them out would remind them in person.”

Mr Laroda was transferred to the PDC from the Gaming Board, where he served as a director. His appointment is up in June, and he told The Tribune that he was open to staying on in the post if asked for the sake of continuity.

In last week’s Speech from the Throne, legislation was promised to amend the Public Disclosure Act to include a campaign finance component and allow for a matter to be referred to an independent prosecutor.

Comments

TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades! What in the hell is with this nonsense that that you are not prepared to release the names of the PUBIC OFFICIALS OFFENDERS who have failed to file financial disclosures?
i have long been demanding to know why and how anyone required file financial disclosures can get away with not filing as required, and not a single prime minister have taken action.... Maybe it has something do with the PM's themselves, haven't always followed the financial disclosure rules.
Just because you're no longer in office, doesn't mean you can continue to avoid the filing of any and all mandatory yearly disclosures you failed to file whilst in office. There can be no excuses for not filing as required by the law. Your asses should be promptly arrested, charged, tried and if found guilty - sent to jail for 2-years.... and it shouldn't matter the colours your political parties t-shirts.

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DDK 2 years, 3 months ago

Clear as can be Comrade!!!

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade DDK, maybe you better understand why I turn to my morning Whisky - cause it makes me want testify about such lawlessness going on by our government officials - elected and appointed - and in full sight right under the watchful eyes of more than one Rt. Honourable Prime Minister.
PM Minnis, it's your turn see what action you will take - right after you stop being a major landlord to the very government you head.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

This seems like a no brainer. You can't be nominated if you don't have a declaration. Easy. As to senior officials there should be an equally onerous disincentive for not declaring. No increments, no promotions, no perks and for each year without declaration they get demerits, things are removed.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Public Disclosure Commission Chairman Myles Laroda, if you give me a complete list of the names of the financial disclosures LAW BREAKERS - I can call CRIME STOPPERS hotline in Toronto, Canada - and collect a ton of REWARD MONIES for turning the culprits in.
I swear to my Sweet Jesus, I will make the call to Toronto Canada!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 3 months ago

Minnis should be immediately directing the Public Disclosure Commission Chairman to publish in one or more editions of the local newspapers the names of all those politicians, whether they be FNM or PLP, who were noncompliant with their disclosure requirements at anytime during the five years preceding the recent general election. The public has a right to know who they are and Minnis has repeatedly promised his government would be the most transparent one the Bahamas has ever had. Well Dr. Minnis, it's high time for you to start making good on your transparency commitment. After all, as you so very fondly like to put it: "It's the people's time!" That being the case, get on with naming and shaming all of these present and past politicians who obviously do not respect and abide by the rule of law. We have every right to know who they are, even though several of them now hold key positions within your own government.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Well_mudda-take-cic, why limit to 5-years. I say we take down ALL financial disclosures OFFENDERS. To limit to just the previous 5-years is to play politics with the law.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades! Corruption [was] and [will] exist!
In the Bahamaland - it's considered similar to how a well run franchise operates.... In short order everybody will soon know how much you have to pay and to whom?
Some the people red connected - actually may have been the original inventors the 'under-da-table' franchise payment system. The biggest difference between the PLP's and Reds, is the reds knows how to better manage it on a scale that no PLP {well almost no PLP] have ever been able to enjoy - and not show-off as much.
Amen!

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 3 months ago

The FNM promised transparency and accountability ............ Let us start with the Public Disclosure Office ........ Mr. Minnis, please publish the names of ALL of the offenders of the past FIVE years ............ Let the chips fall where they may ...... And loose the handcuffs of this Office as well, and let it hold the MPs accountable instead of having to get permission from the OPM

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Sickened 2 years, 3 months ago

Anyone who doesn't disclose needs to be immediately removed as an MP. If they don't follow the rules then they can't hold the position. Mr. Minnis, you need to get this straightened out once and for all. NO MORE BS FROM OUR ELECTED LEADERS!

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Economist 2 years, 3 months ago

They should pass further legislation that requires senior Civil Servants to give a full disclosure as well.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 3 months ago

It presently exists ......... It is not enforced beyond parliamentarians

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrades! PM MInnis reveals he is investigating and auditing this and that.... But it seems by his silence he done made it clear that the "4th" Red Regime - have no intention of enforcing the Financial Disclosure Law..... And, regardless how long it been since you were legally required to file. 'It's the People's Time' - has plenty of time wait to see Justice done to all offenders the law on the books that carries a 2 -years jail-time penalty up at Fox Hill.
Red MP's done tripping over each other to duck-out on 5-years open government 'Transparency' promises whilst in opposition.... It has only taken them 21 days in office - before they done started raising their red pants legs to pee all over the - It's the People's Time.'

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Wideawake 2 years, 3 months ago

The most important problem with corruption in The Bahamas has always been the the complicity of the Opposition in turning a blind eye to corruption within the Government of the day. This Minnis FNM Government must do exactly what they said and expose corruption wherever they find it, and really, yes REALLY!, let the law prosecute the offenders exactly as tthe law prescribes. There can be no more turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of politicians who steal. The wheeling and dealing between the new and the old administrations must stop, once and for all.

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