The Integrity Commission yesterday began identifying public officials who failed to submit declarations of their assets and liabilities by the deadline and its Chairman Kumar Doraisami yesterday said that legal action will be taken against those who fail to take corrective action and comply with their obligations.
The Office of the Integrity Commission published a full page notice in the Saturday edition of the Guyana Chronicle, listing 87 persons in public life who have failed to submit their declarations, pursuant to Section 19 of the Integrity Commission Act as at November 1st, 2018, and listed among the defaulters were 41 Members of Parliament (MPs), including senior government ministers, and opposition members.
According to the ad, the government MPs who are yet to submit are Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, Public Service Minister Rupert Roopnaraine, Communi-ties Minister Ronald Bulkan, Social Cohesion Minister Dr. George Norton, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, Education Minister Nicolette Henry, Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection Keith Scott, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson, Minister within the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs Valarie Garrido-Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Karen Cummings, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources Simona Broomes, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Minister within the Ministry of Communities Valarie Patterson, Jennifer Wade, Rajcoomarie Bancroft, John Adams, Richard Allen, Michael Carrington, Jermaine Figueira, Charrandass Persaud, Haimraj Rajkumar and Audwin Rutherford.
Also listed are presidential advisors Eshwar Persaud, Protocol Advisor; Cheryl Sampson, Ministerial Advisor on Education; Robert Corbin, Senior Advisor to President David Granger; Ndibi Schweirs, Ministerial Advisor Natural Resources and Director of the Department of Environment; Mervyn Williams, Ministerial Advisor on Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs; Lancelot Carberry, Ministerial Advisor on Constitutional Reform and Max Mohammed, Technical Advisor on Oil and Gas.
Also listed among the defaulters are Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Barton Scotland, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs and Deputy Clerk Hermina Gilgeous.
The names were also published in the Official Gazette.
“The law requires now that we publish the names in the Official Gazette and a daily newspaper. So that is what we are doing right now and if they still don’t comply then we will have to move with the next step, which is prosecuting them,” Doraisami told Sunday Stabroek when contacted.
The Integrity Commission Act states that the publication of the names can be done either by the Commission or the President.
It states that those officials who fail to submit their declarations or submit declarations that are false or incomplete shall be liable, on summary conviction, to “a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term of not less than six months nor more than one year, and where the offence involves the non-disclosure, by the declarant, of property, which should have been disclosed in the declaration, the magistrate convicting the person shall order the person to make full disclosure of the property within a given time and on failure to comply with the order of the magistrate within the given time, the said offence shall be deemed to be a continuing offence and the person shall be liable to a further fine of ten thousand dollars for each day on which the offence continues.”
Doraisami said that while the deadline for submission was June 30th, the Commission had given the public officials an extension but many still did not comply. When asked if the commission was giving a further extension in keeping with the advertisement, he responded in the negative. He informed that there are more names to be published, which may be done every weekend until the list has been exhausted.
Earlier this month, the Chairman told this newspaper that approximately 300 declarations were received after 1,300 forms were sent out. He had said that the examination of the forms submitted would begin shortly.
Doraisami yesterday said he and his fellow commissioners—attorney Rosemary Benjamin-Noble and Pandit Rabindranath Persaud—have already started the examination of the declarations submitted. None of the commissioners are full-time employees and as a result their work has to be carefully planned around their availability.
Infrastructure Minister David Patterson was shocked when told that he was listed among the defaulters. “My name? I’ll have to look at that ’cause I know I submit…I doubt you,” he told Sunday Stabroek. He could not say when he submitted but noted that he had asked the Commission for an extension.
He reiterated that he will have to look at the matter as he did not want to comment on something he knew nothing about. He said that he would have a look at the advertisement after which a comment would be made.
Twenty-four of the 41 MPs listed are from government, which will likely raise concerns.
When contacted, government Chief Whip Amna Ally told this newspaper that she was at a function and could not address the matter. She was asked whether she intends to address this issue with those who are yet to comply.
She asked this newspaper to send her a copy of the list via WhatsApp, which was done. Up to press time last evening, there was no response from her on the matter.
On the opposition side of the House, those who have been identified as being in default are Mohammed Irfaan Ali, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, Priya Manickchand, Dr. Frank Anthony, Pauline Sukhai, Odinga Lumumba, Dharamkumar Seeraj, Collin Croal, Gillian Persaud, Jennifer Westford, Africo Selman, Yvonne Pearson, Neenkumar, Cornel Damon, Alister Charlie, Harry Gill and Bhagmattie Veerasammy.
Nandlall, when contacted, acknowledged that he did not submit his form and explained that he did not know the location of the Commission’s office until sometime during last week.
“My Integrity Commission form is filled up and I couldn’t find the …office. I finally located it on Friday afternoon. It is located all the way in Subryanville now,” he said, before adding that he intends to submit the document tomorrow.
Nandlall said that the form was sent to him “sometime ago.” He added that he has been filing his declarations “dutifully” every year, before stressing that he is not seeking to justify his failure to submit. He pointed out that government MPs have a greater responsibility to make those submissions given that they handle public funds.
Anthony, however, expressed surprise that he was listed since he claimed he had handed in his form days ago. “I think they need to update their records because I have actually submitted… during the week… at the Integrity Commission head office,” he said.
He stressed that there was “obviously” was an error on the Commission’s part. Anthony said that he has submitted his declaration every year but this year he was late but “I rectified that.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Akeem Peter, who was among those listed under the ‘Mayor, Deputy Mayors and Town Clerk of the Nine Municipalities’ category, said that he plans to submit the document and was unaware of the publication of the list of names. Asked if there was a reason for the delay, he said “No, there wasn’t no direct reason. I was very, very busy.” He said he would submit his declaration during this week.
Also listed under the Georgetown Town Council are the Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King.
For the Anna Regina Town Council, Mayor Rabindranauth Mohan and his deputy Darshan Persaud are yet to submit, according to the ad. Bartica Mayor Gifford Marshall, Deputy Mayor Nageshwari Locanprasad and Town Clerk Phebe Wallerson as well as Corriverton Mayor Krishnand Jaichand were also listed as being in default.
Regarding the Linden Town Council, Mayor Waneka Arrindell and her deputy Wainewright Bethune have been cited as being delinquent as has Mayor of Mabaruma Henry Smith, his deputy Astrell Gamell and Town Clerk Barrington Wards.
New Amsterdam Mayor Rebecca Heywood was listed as was Mayor of Rose Hall Kumar Ramoo along with his deputy Dave Budhu and Town Clerk (ag) Natasha Griffith.
Included in the list also are Permanent Secretaries (PS) and Deputy Permanent Secretaries (DPS) of several ministries and government departments. They are: Dacia Ferguson, the DPS (Finance), Ministry of Agriculture; Rajdai Jagarnauth, PS and Kim Stephens, DPS of the Ministry of Business; Emil McGarrell, PS of the Ministry of Communities; Vibert Welch, PS of the Ministry of Education; Hector Butts, the Finance Secretary, Ministry of Finance; Audrey Waddell, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Alfred King, PS and Sherie Fedee, DPS, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs; Joyln Nestor, PS, Ministry of Legal Affairs; Joslyn Mc Kenzie PS, Ministry of Natural Resources; Reginald Brotherson, PS Department of Public Service; Steve Ninvalle, DPS Department of Social Cohension, Culture, Youth and Sport; Colette Adams, PS Ministry of Public Health; Kenneth Jordan, PS Ministry of Public Infrastructure; Daneilla McCalmon, PS Ministry of Public Security; and Lorene Baird, PS and Mohan Ramrattan, DPS Ministry of Social Protection.
Some of those listed claimed they never received forms while several others claimed that they were unaware that the deadline for submission was long gone.
According to the Integrity Commission Act, every person who is a person in public life, not being a member of the Commission, is required to file a declaration every year on or before 30th June and in cases where such persons cease to be a person in public life, within 30 days from the date on which the person ceases to be a person in public life.
“A declaration under subsection (I) or (2) shall give full, true and complete particulars of the assets and liabilities as on the relevant date, and the income during a period of twelve months immediately prior to the relevant date, of the person filling the declaration (whether the assets were held by that person in his own name or in the name of any other person) and of the spouse and children of such person to the extent to which such person has knowledge of the same,” it further states.
It states that where a person in public life holds any money or other property in trust for another person, not being his spouse or child or another person in public life, he shall so state in his declaration but shall not be required to disclose the terms of the trust.
“A person in public life is required to disclose in his declaration… such details in respect of the income, assets and liabilities of himself and those of his spouse and his children, as by the exercise of reasonable care should be known to him,” the Act states, while adding that for the purposes of a declaration under Section 13, the income, assets and liabilities of a person in public life, his spouse and his child shall include the income, assets and liabilities acquired, held or incurred by any other person as agent or on behalf of all or any of them.
Any direct or indirect benefit accruing to the income or assets of a declarant or his spouse or child must be disclosed in a declaration under Section 13, it states.
The Act further states that the Commission or the President, as the case may be, shall receive, examine and retain all declarations and documents filed with it or him under the Act; and make such enquiries as it or he considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of the financial affairs, as stated in the declarations of persons who are required to file declarations under this Act.