CoP faces removal from ACC

| 16/12/2011

_DEW9188(2).jpg(CNS): The government has said it wants time to consider a proposal to remove the automatic membership of the police commissioner, the complaints commissioner and the auditor general from the country’s Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC). The independent member for North Side filed a private member’s motion Thursday calling for the Legislative Assembly to vote to change section three of the anti-corruption law removing the automatic appointment of the three senior independent civil servants from the board. The proposal calls for the governor to appoint five people to the commission, one of whom would be a judge, magistrate or JP and one a retired lawyer. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Although the government did not accept Ezzard Miller’s motion as submitted, it did not vote the motion down but instead altered the wording on the proposal to allow “government to consider amending” rather than allowing the Legislative Assembly to vote on the material change to the law there and then.

The premier said that the government wanted to consider a number of elements within the anti-corruption law, which came into effect in January 2010. He told Miller and his other legislative colleagues that government wanted the time and leeway to consider the whole law as he felt there was room for improvement.

Meanwhile, the first ever annual report of the commission was tabled in the parliament on Thursday but it gives very little away about the work of the body so far. It does, however, reveal that the commission has plans to educate the public, particularly public servants, about reporting information to the commission.

The anti-corruption law places significant responsibilities on the civil service to report instances or suspicions of corruption and places penalties on people who fail to report apparent or suspected breaches of the law that they encounter in their work as public servants.

The commission said in the report that it intends to create a “learning package” that will spell out the role of government employees about their responsibilities under the law. The report also stated that the commission was seeking ways on top of the confidential hotline to “make things simple” for people to come forward and report concerns confidentially.

The report said that since the implementation of the anti-corruption law, it has investigated 21 reports. So far, the only person that has been charged under the law is a civilian member of the RCIPS who was recently suspended and is now awaiting trial. A second man and former member of the National Housing and Development Trust Board was arrested in October under the law but he has not been charged with any crime.

The report is now a public document but it is not yet posted on the ACC website.

Category: Crime

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymously IRON CLAD says:


  2. Patriot says:

    In his determination to impose Caymunization on everything, Ezzard risks turning this commission into another talking shop.  There is clear evidence that the current members of this committee have stood up to the status quo in ways that unfortunately Caymanians have not.  This goes particularly for the complaints commissioner and the auditor general (and his predecessor).

    • anonymous says:

      It clearly would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire if the AC Law were to be amended so that the Commissioners are simply appointed by the political arm of Government. So appoinments should remain vested in the Governor alone (possibly with some form of local consultation procedure).

      It cannot be correct to have three ex officio Commissioners (however honourable they may be) who also hold other public offices. This strikes at the very core of the ACC – that it must be independent of all Government departments and agencies. After all theACC might very well be called on to investigate corruption in, for example, the RCIPS or Complaints Commissioner’s Office.

      It would seem most appropriate if the 5 Commissioners were all private citizens, and that at least one (or possibly 2) be resident outside the Cayman Islands. Some of them should have legal, judicial or law enforcement backgrounds. Certainly the Chairman should be so qualified. It is quite possible to find candidates both here and overseas who will be tough, impartial and effective.

      Critically, the ACC must have its own staff headed by a full time Executive Director with extensive experience in a similar organisation elsewhere. Headhunting someone from the Hong Kong ICAC immediately comes to mind.

      Funding the ACC will not come cheap. But it will be money well spent for the long term good of the Islands and our credibility internationally. So I suggest a specific fee of say $15, designated the “ACC Funding Levy”, be added to the annual fee of every Cayman Company and Limited Partnership paid to the Registrar or a similar fee of $150 be added to the annual fee of every mutual fund payable to CIMA. Or the funding could be carved out of the RCIPS budget or even from cutting waste and excess from other Government departments and programmes.

      Tim Ridley

      • Reality Cheque says:

        Cayman is too small to have the Rolls Royce model you suggest.  These officers have been shown to stand up to government and should have their place on the committee.

        • Anonymous says:

          The issue is not  about the individuals. The point is that in principle, regardless of the identity of the incumbents, a corruption complaint could involve any of these offices. The Commission should be completely independent. It is not "Rolls Royce"; it is essential to fully achieve the objectives of anti-corruption legislation.  

        • Anonymous says:

          5 independent Commissioners are not the real expense of the ACC (I am sure they will serve for modest reward and expenses). Most of the cost will be in giving the ACC proper staffing, physical premises,IT and other resources. Some of that might be taken out of the RCIPS budget as the ACC will be carrying out certain functions currently carried out by the RCIPS. It is probably a vain hope that some of the funding could be found by reducing waste and unnecessary costs elsewhere in Government. So that is why I suggest an additional modest fee on companies or mutual funds to cover the funding. Fighting bribery and corruption locally and internationally is everybody's business and in the long term interest of the Islands, so we should all contribute. This would be money far better spent than rebating electricity bills!


          Tim Ridley

      • Dan Duguay says:

        I agree fully with Tim on this issue. I always felt uneasy about sitting on the ACC when I was the AG. There was always the concern about a conflict of interest. Of course, the AG will often be involved in corruption cases either by uncovering them or being part of the investigative process but I see no good reason that the AG should sit as part of the Committee itself.

        Interestingly, I was never consulted or asked about whether the AG should be on the ACC. The first I heard about it was when the Act was sent to the Office. No one ever asked my opinion on whether the AG should sit on the committee or whether such an appointment might put the AG in a conflict of interest position.

        Like Mr. Ridley,I believe that the Commission should be independent of the civil service. It should also be independent of the political process or it would have very little credibility. As suggested, I believe it would be appropriate if some of the members would be from outside the Islands.

  3. Maverick (yep, still here... says:

    I have a suggestion, which, like every other sensible proposal anyone in the history of the Cayman Islands has ever made will be shot down in flames in order to preserve local 'traditions'… that'll be greed, ineptitude, corruption and child/spousal abuse then… and that is that when it is proven, and I mean PROVEN that Baines has cleaned his own house, and the RCIP is corruption free, he may, but only may, be considered to sit on the ACC. Problem is, he'll be either gone home in a haze of resentment or retired here by then, having gained status and spend his time diving and not giving a XXXX.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Isn't the phrase 'senior independent civil servants' a complete contradiction in terms? I admit there are a some notable exceptions but most seem to have achieved high office by engaging in exactly the same kind of conduct the ACC is supposed to tackle.

    Makes you wonder who draws up this legislation and who checks it.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Having the current government set the ground rules for the ACC is like having the fox set the rules to protect the hen house.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Watch for an amendment that will specify that the ACC will be composed of people who get their posts on the same basis of patronage.

    • Anonymous says:

      There should be at least two people with "granny wits" on the commission.

  7. anonymous says:

    There are a number of significant flaws in the structure and operations of the ACC and the enabling Law. And these have been detailed previously. No disrespect to the ex officio Commissioners is intended in criticising the greatest flaw of the ACC – that it cannot be truly independent unless NO Commissioner holds any other public office. So we should simply recognise this flaw, correct it and move on and make the ACC truly effective and doing the job it was set up to do. We should also recognise that, to make the ACC fully effective, will require significantly greater financial and human resources devoted to it. So the Government needs to move beyond just lip service to the ACC and to include in its budget proper funding of the ACC. Tim Ridley

    • Anonymous says:

      That point was made time and again to the AG before the Bill was enacted, but was ignored. Why? And why then is it now being considered?

      • Anonymous says:

        I am afraid that, as far as I know, very few people made comments to the Attorney General when the draft Law was first circulated several years ago. One change was made. In the initial draft, the Police Commissioner was the sole ACC Commissioner!  I undertand that the PPM Government felt at the time that the concerns had been adequately addressed by expanding the number of Commissioners to 5, 3 ex officio and 2 private sector.

        We do not know whether the current Government will in fact take any legislative action. There is a huge difference between being in favour of the ACC in theory (who could be against it?) and doing something to make it a truly effective operational body in practice. But it is quite possible that the UK and the Governorare bringing some welcome pressure to improve the ACC as part of the enhanced good governance that will surely be a key part of the White Paper in 2012.

        Tim Ridley

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good move, Ezzard. Govt, Tim Ridley has reams of material on this. Get it done.