PNP keeps focus on Integrity Commission probe

ANCHOVY, St James — The Opposition People’s National Party on the weekend continued its focus on a recent revelation that six parliamentarians are being investigated by the Integrity Commission (IC), ramping up the rhetoric by declaring none are from their side and asking whether any of the six sit on the joint select committee reviewing the Integrity Commission Act and the oversight committee for the IC.

“If the answer to any of those is yes, the prime minister has a duty to tell the country who they are. Tell the country who are the six persons who are being investigated for illicit enrichment in the Parliament,” Senator Donna Scott-Mottley told Comrades on Sunday during the St James Southern Constituency Conference at Anchovy High School.

In its annual report for the 2022/23 reporting period, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on July 11, the IC revealed that six of the country’s parliamentarians are being investigated for illicit enrichment. The parliamentarians were not named, as stipulated under the rules that govern the IC.

The six have allegedly breached Sections 14 (5) (a) of the Corruption Prevention Act. According to the provision, illicit enrichment happens where a public servant owns assets disproportionate to his lawful earnings; and upon being requested by the commission or any person duly authorised to investigate an allegation of corruption against him, to provide an explanation as to how he came by such assets, he fails to do so; or gives an explanation which is not considered to be satisfactory.

In such a scenario, an individual shall be liable to prosecution for the offence of illicit enrichment.

“There are 63 Members of Parliament and 21 senators and six people should not impugn the integrity of all of us,” said Scott-Mottley.

“I, Donna Scott-Mottley, can declare here that the Integrity Commission has not been in touch with me and I am sure every member… Senator [Gabriella] Morris can do it. Senator [Peter] Bunting can do it. All of us can say the Integrity Commission has not been in contact with us. I challenge the members of the Government, the Members of Parliament to come out and tell the people of Jamaica that they cannot be questioned,” she added.

On the same day, PNP Chairman Angela Brown Burke and aspiring Member of Parliament Dennis Meadows also weighed in on issues related to the IC.

According to Meadows, who is seeking to represent the PNP in Trelawny northern in the next general election, in his view a PNP Government should remove the gag clause that prevents the IC from naming individuals being investigated.

“The moment we take power as the People’s National Party we must ensure that we remove that clause from the Integrity Commission Act so that when you under probe, we must know. Because when you have common citizens under probe by the police them tell the world. So when you are a public servant vested with public trust we must know if you under probe. So the law prevents the Integrity Commission to tell us who those six persons are. But hear me now, it don’t prevent the prime minister to tell us, of his 49 [parliamentarians], how many of them are among the six who are persons of interest by the Integrity Commission,” Meadows argued.

For her part, the PNP chairman questioned whether there is any link between some parliamentarians lambasting of the IC and the amendment of the Constitution to increase the retirement age of the director of public prosecutions and the auditor general.

Meadows and Brown Burke were speaking at the PNP’s Trelawny Southern constituency conference.

Businessman Fabion Davis was selected as the standard-bearer in the constituency to represent the party in the next national polls.

— Additional reporting by Horace Hines