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Cancelled Meeting Delays Review Of Public Disclosure Submissions

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

A cancelled meeting has delayed the review of public disclosure submissions, with the committee’s chairman Myles Laroda yesterday telling The Tribune: “I can’t say if they all got in”.

During a telephone interview in which he took issue with the amount of calls and messages received from The Tribune, Mr Laroda said the committee was unable to meet due to the itineraries of two members - both of whom were reportedly out of the jurisdiction.

“You know, I am trying to be as accessible as I can,” he said when called. “I do work for a living. I (sit as the chairman) in service of my country.”

When asked whether the committee was able to verify if all disclosures had been filed prior to last week’s deadline, Mr Laroda added: “I don’t like to speak until I cover myself fully on these matters.”

He continued: “We meet every week. We usually meet every week. Two members, one who is a CPA is out of the jurisdiction, the other, a pastor, he wasn’t able to meet today. Both of them were unavailable.

“I am not going to speculate, speculation would not be factual. Last week (Thursday) we went up until 1pm. The office remained opened until 5pm. I can’t say if they all got in. I don’t think so, but I am not going to speculate.”

Progressive Liberal Party chairman Fred Mitchell last week confirmed all opposition parliamentarians had filed in the lead up to the March 1 deadline.

The senator said all of his colleagues had “complied with the provisions of the Public Disclosure Act 1967 by filing the executed form A.”

When contacted last Friday, Free National Movement chairman Carl Culmer said he could not confirm the status of every members’ filings, claiming he was “busy with other party business.”

The Public Disclosure Act empowers only two people to act on delinquent filings: the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Either of them can publish the information through a communication in the House of Assembly or cause for it to be laid in the Senate. Either can authorise that the information be presented to the attorney general or commissioner of police so those who failed to disclose could face a penalty.

The penalty for not disclosing is a $10,000 fine and/or up to two years in prison.

Last year, the deadline for filings was delayed until the end of March.

Despite this, three people, two senators and a parliamentarian, still failed to make their disclosures by that date.

Rather, those outstanding filings were submitted in the lead up to the PDC’s much-delayed meeting to discuss filings, so they were ruled to have been in on time.

When asked yesterday if there was a deadline for PDC to submit the names of any person that did not file to his office, Attorney General Carl Bethel said no, indicating that submitting those names would be left up to the “discretion” of the committee.

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