By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
“I have been too busy really to have conducted any search for replacements of the Integrity Commission,” Prime Minister Dean Barrow said this week.
Barrow told the media that he has been having difficulties trying to construct the Integrity Commission and that he had not even begun the search for members to replace Stephen Duncan and Brett Feinstein.
“I need to check with the leader of the opposition. Before we went public I indicated to him my difficulties and he said he would have to check with his two appointees as to whether they were prepared to stay.
“Nobody has taken account of the fact that these people are more likely than not going to be deemed politically exposed persons with the accompanying obligations. I have not heard back from him, whether his people are prepared to stay,” Barrow told the media.
The formation of the Integrity Commission, which was to have been established at the last Senate sitting, has been delayed once more since the two United Democratic Party (UDP) nominees have declined the offer due to increased scrutiny of Commission members as a result of the expanded definition of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPS) in the amendment to the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Amendment Bill.
According to the Amendment of 2014, PEPs include a “Domestic politically exposed person”, who is a person who has been entrusted with a prominent public function.
Based on legal advice given to Reporter, this is the provision, which would include members of a body such as the Integrity Commission.
According to Anti-Money Laundering guidelines on the Central Bank website, “Once persons are identified as PEPs they are always to be considered PEPs.”
The former Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Director, Marilyn Williams, was recently chosen as the new chair for the Commission.
Whether or not Belize will have established an Integrity Commission by the time the Anti-corruption Mechanism of the Organization of American States (OAS) visits in April remains to be seen.
The Anti-corruption Mechanism of the OAS is scheduled to hold an on-site visit in April, to review the anti-corruption mechanisms employed by Belize.
One of the bodies the OAS used to consult with and gather data from in countries such as Guyana and the Dominican Republic is the Integrity Commission.