Integrity Commission welcomes improved compliance by public officials

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE Integrity Commission is heartened by what it described as greater compliance from people in public life in filing declarations and statements of interests.

They are required to do so under the Integrity in Public Life Act

In a statement on Thursday, in response to questions from Newsday, the commission said it is “quietly encouraged by the response of persons in public life with respect to the filing of declarations and statements of registrable interests.”

This encouragment was linked to the publication of the names of people in public life who did not file declarations last year. To date, 123 have submitted them.

“Even more encouraging is that 121 persons in public life with outstanding declarations and statements of registrable interests for years prior to 2020 have made submissions after the publication on October 25, 2021.

The commission did not indicate in either case the names of the people who submitted declarations and statements in response to its notices to do so.

The list of those who did not file declarations and statements for 2020, as published in the TT Gazette of October 29, included incumbent and former parliamentarians.

In the former category were Fitzgerald Hinds, Pennelope Beckles, Shamfa Cudjoe, Dr Roodal Moonilal, Anita Haynes and Khadijah Ameen.

In the latter were Edmund Dillon, Ancil Antoine, Marlene McDonald, Fazal Karim, Dr Fuad Khan, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan and Ramona Ramdial.

In a statement on September 10, the commission said it had made 150 ex-parte applications to the High Court for orders directing people who had failed to file annual declarations and statements to do so, in accordance with the act.

An ex-parte application is one brought by one person without the other party or parties having to be notified.

Under Section11(8) of the act, it said, someone who does not comply with an ex-parte order commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of $150,000.

Under Section 21(1), a person who fails to provide further particulars and who fails to file a declaration without reasonable cause is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $250,000 and to ten years’ imprisonment.

In its 2020 annual report, the commission said a total of 23 ex-parte court orders were served on people in public life who failed to file their declarations of income, assets and liabilities and statements of registrable interests last year. This was in spite of their names being published in newspapers and in the Gazette. The commission added that 11 of the 23 had complied with the ex-parte orders.