Thursday, April 12 2012
WHILE it takes the step of mentioning that deputy chairman Gladys Gafoor was in February suspended, the Integrity Commission fails to disclose in its annual report that Gafoor has initiated action against the Commission.
The Commission’s Annual Report for the year 2011, which covers the period up to December 31, 2011, was tabled in the Senate on Tuesday. The Report was signed off by chairman Ken Gordon, and commissioners Neil Rolingson, Professor Ann-Marie Bissessar and Seunarine Jokhoo on March 29, 2012.
While the Report is meant to cover the period up to December 2011, it discloses Gafoor’s suspension, which took place in February, in a footnote. The footnote next to Gafoor’s name is on a list of the current members of the Commission on page 4 of the Report.
The footnote reads: “With effect from February 9, 2012, Madam Justice Gladys Gafoor has been suspended from performing the functions of her office as a member and deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission by His Excellency President George Maxwell-Richards pending the findings of the Tribunal appointed to investigate allegations of misconduct against her.” It then refers to the Gazette notice appointing the Tribunal.
At the same time, the Commission, in the March 29 document, fails to disclose in its footnote, the fact that Gafoor has started court action against it. It also does not disclose the Gafoor lawsuit in the section of the Report entitled “Legal Matters” where a list of all court actions brought against the Commission, is set out.
Gafoor sued the Commission on March 2, alleging bad faith in its forcing her recusal from hearing a complaint against former Attorney General, John Jeremie. The matter was heard on March 19 and on March 29. The Registrar of the Commission, Martin Farrell, was present at the court matter on March 29 – the very day the Commission signed off its report.
In his chairman’s remarks on page one of the Annual Report, Gordon mentions its plans for the submission of draft regulations.
“The Commission proposes to submit draft regulations for approval before the end of 2012, but there have been challenges which have had to be addressed by the Commission,” Gordon remarks. He then adds, “The issue of confidentiality is one which has plagued the Commission for some time, and this is currently being addressed.” The chairman of the Constitutional body does not cite any instance where confidentiality was breached, nor does he provide a chronology of the history of the issue “which has plagued” the Commission he heads, and for which he is responsible.
Gordon mentions the “Do the right thing” primary school promotion, and the Commission’s “three-year strategic plan”, remarking, “the Commission is also taking the opportunity to review its strengths and weaknesses.”
The report discloses information in relation to the funding of ongoing investigations. It notes that while the Commission was funded $13.6 million in 2011, there was a shortage of funds to hire forensic experts in relation to investigations. An emergency disbursal of $4.5 million was obtained.
“The provision of $1.2 million dollars to service existing maintenance contracts and the engagement of forensic investigative services proved to be inadequate,” the Commission says. “The Commission’s work in respect of the carrying out of investigations was therefore severely stymied. The Commission initially sought to suppress expenditure in other areas so as to channel financial resources to this critical area.”
“Representations were made to the Ministry of Finance to address this issue explaining the effect on the Commission’s ability to engage foreign forensic services. Eventually, the Commission’s allocation under this item was augmented during the course of fiscal year 2011 by $4,500. However the funding was released only in July 2011.”
The Commission further discloses, “given the time-lapse, there was inadequate time for the full engagement of forensic services required and the completion of contracts in order for payments to be effected before the end of the fiscal year September 30, 2011.”
For the second year, the Commission notes that it is urgently seeking new accommodation for its headquarters currently housed at the Unit Trust Corporation headquarters, Independence Square.
“This accommodation is urgently needed,” it notes. “In September 2010, the Commission was informed of the intention of the landlord, UTC, to renew the lease of only one of the two floors which the Commission occupied. All staff are now accommodated on one floor.”