NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Public Disclosure Commission Chairman Myles Laroda revealed yesterday that less than 10 parliamentarians failed to make their financial disclosures on time.
The Public Disclosure Act mandates members of Parliament, senators, senior public officers and public appointees to declare their assets, income and liabilities as of by March 1 every year.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Laroda said: “I wrote to the prime minister and the leader of the opposition and I gave them an update with regard to the public disclosures for members of Parliament and senators.
I would have informed them of those who have not supplied their disclosures, those who had requested and were given extension and those who had submitted their disclosures but were outside the date of March 2.”
Laroda refused to confirm how many parliamentarians failed to disclose, but noted “it’s in the single digits”.
He added that extensions were granted for those who requested it.
“Based on the figures that were given last year, there were more people who fell into the category of not disclosing in time…this year than there were last year,” he said.
In 2019, three parliamentarians failed to make their financial disclosures within the legally stipulated timeframe and had to be given extensions.
Laroda refused to name the non-compliant parliamentarians and also refused to indicate if there were any repeat offenders from the previous year.
The Public Disclosure Act empowers both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to “authorize the furnishing of any information furnished to him by the [Public Disclosure] Commission to the attorney general or the commissioner of police”
The act provides for a $10,000 fine or imprisonment of a term not exceeding two years, or both, for anyone who violates it.
While in opposition, the FNM Leader Hubert Minnis said that MPs who failed to comply with the law and make their financial disclosures should be locked up.
However, since coming into office no action has been taken against any parliamentarian who failed to comply.
In 2017, the government has tabled the Integrity Commission Bill which would repeal the Public Disclosure Act and impose a fine and possible imprisonment on parliamentarians who fail to disclose their assets.
However, there has been no movement on the proposed legislation to date.
The bill also makes provisions to establish an anti-corruption body and a code of conduct for people in public life.