‘Dead lef’ among obstacles Integrity Commission facing with declarants

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Among the obstacles faced by the Integrity Commission (IC) in verifying statutory declarations of public servants are declarants who indicate that some of their declared assets are from persons who have died.

This was stated by Chairman of the commission, retired Justice Seymour Panton, in his remarks in the Commission’s 2023/24 Annual Report that was tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday.

“I do not, for one moment, query the veracity of declarants, but I have noted that the Director of Information and Complaints has received responses indicating gifts having been made by individuals who have died,” said Panton.

“These gifts are without a paper trail, and, of course, the donors are no longer able to verify same. It is perhaps something worth watching. The Commission is not keen on investigating matters relating to donations by persons who have died,” Panton added. 

The chairman explained that the Director of Information and Complaints is empowered to “make such enquiries as he considers necessary in order to certify or determine the accuracy of a statutory declaration”.

At the same time, the Director of Investigation has a duty to “investigate…any allegation that involves or may involve an act of corruption or any allegation relating to noncompliance with the provisions of (the Integrity Commission) Act”.

“It should not be assumed that there is smooth going in the execution of these roles by the two directors mentioned. They face significant resistance from time to time by some individuals as well as some institutions,” Panton stated.

He said those who follow proceedings in the Courts would have noted that the Commission had to go to the Supreme Court to get an Order for Barita Investments Limited to comply with a request for information.

“Barita is not the only institution that has hesitated to comply with the Commission’s legitimate requests. There is one other institution that has not been as cooperative as the Commission would have liked,” Panton revealed.

He urged financial institutions to respond positively when the Commission comes calling.

“It is unwise for them to endanger their licences or their relationships with internal or external bodies,” he said.

Meanwhile, the chairman shared that delays in investigating matters are also caused by lawyers for declarants who seek multiple adjournments when the Director of Investigation has had occasion to summon a declarant for a judicial hearing.

“There is also the fear factor on the part of witnesses; fear that they may be physically harmed if they cooperate with the Commission in its investigations,” Panton said.