PDC Chairman: Some Senators, MP’s have failed to disclose assets

PDC Chairman: Some Senators, MP’s have failed to disclose assets

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  Myles Laroda, Chairman of the Public Disclosure Commission(PDC) confirmed on Thursday that some parliamentarians did not disclose their assets before the March 1 deadline.

In a telephone interview with Eyewitness News, Laroda said following a meeting held yesterday, he has since written a letter to prime minister Dr. Hubert Minnis as well as to opposition leader Philip Davis, advising them of who did not disclose their assets.

“I don’t want to preempt them but I think it will be fair to say the disclosures were very high and the numbers not disclosing was very low, and I will leave it at that. But I will say the numbers are very small from those who are still outstanding,” Laroda said.

“There was a group from which there was full compliance and there was another group that had just a small number who had not disclosed.”

And while he did not give names or state if the persons who did not disclose were government or opposition MPs or senators, the PDC chairman said the few who did not disclose were from the Upper as well as the Lower chamber of the House.

As of March 1, all public officials were required to declare their assets.

Failing to declare under the Integrity Commission Bill could result in a fine not exceeding $15,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.

The Bill requires public officials, including members of parliament, senators and other high-ranking government officials, to make full disclosures of income, assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and children.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis previously told reporters that the files on delinquent disclosures would be sent to the office of the attorney general, however, no action was ever taken against persons who fell in this category.

Yesterday, Laroda explained that since the public disclosure act was enacted in 1976, no action could be taken against those who did not declare their assets unless permission is given in writing by the attorney general.

“From its inception, my predecessors and myself –  in our dealing with [public disclosure] matters – have been doing nothing more than writing to the leaders of the various parties,” Laroda said.

“I can’t speak for the government but I know there is a new integrity act that was tabled and it has not been debated as yet, but maybe that will address the shortcoming of the Public Disclosure Act.

Asked if he believes if any action would be taken, Laroda responded, “ I will be fair to the prime minister in that they have at least tabled a new Integrity Act and it is supposed to be tougher than the Act as we have it now. The Act is like 40 years old and I think we have passed the time of 1976 and it should be brought into line with global standards as it relates to transparency and anti-corruption.”

And while Laroda could not state those persons who failed to declare, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell told the media earlier this month that the four opposition parliamentarians in the House of Assembly had met the March 1 deadline.