By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Integrity Commission, which has been inactive for the last four years, was officially appointed at Thursday’s Sitting of the Senate.
The appointments are for a period of two years effective from February 1st, 2014.
The official appointment comes a little more than a month after the Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced, in his New Year’s address to the nation, that his government would be doing so.
Former Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Director, Marilyn Williams, as was previously reported, will chair the newly appointed commission. The rest of the commission will be made up of accountant Breth Feinstein, Armeid Gabourel, Wilmot Simmons.
The opposition appointees are Phillip Zuniga and Kevin Arthurs, who are both attorneys.
Last week, Williams said to The Reporter that as in everything she attempts, she would carry out this task to the best of her ability. “I look forward to establishing a properly functioning Integrity Commission as Chairperson.”
The Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) has been at the forefront calling for this United Democratic Party (UDP) government to appoint a new Integrity Commission for quite some time and last week said that they welcomed the appointments.
VIP Public Relations Officer Robert Lopez also added that the VIP would be monitoring the Commission closely and that VIP is of the view that the Commission has a lot of work to catch up on, including demanding disclosures from public officials since 2009.
The Integrity Commission exists for the purpose of having public officials, which includes members of Cabinet, the National Assembly, as well as municipal representatives, file financial disclosures.
The disclosures filed by public officials must detail their salary, fees, wages, profits, rent, interest, contracts awarded by government or the private sector, leases or grants, and business interests. Declarations of finances must be submitted for the public official, their spouse, their children and other immediate family or associates.
Where a person in public life fails to file a declaration, the Commission is required to publish this information in The Gazette and send a report to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). According to Section 19 of the Act, a person who fails to file a declaration to the Commission is liable on summary conviction, which would come from the Magistrate Court, to pay a fine not less than $3,000 plus an additional $100 for every day that the disclosure remains outstanding. On a second or subsequent offence the fine cannot be less than $5,000 or to imprisonment for one year or both.
The Act also provides for penalties against corruption and defines what is considered corruption. According to the Act, a person commits an act of corruption if that public official obtains any illicit benefit for himself through the performance of his public functions. The Act also details other specific instances that are considered to be acts of corruption.