Leading up to the early general elections in May 2015, the Coalition Government had been vowing to get to the bottom of what it says appeared to be widespread corruption within the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
A few months after taking office, the new administration ordered a number of forensic audits into the operations of state agencies to determine the state of affairs.
The reports raised a number of troubling findings, which the Government said were serious enough to warrant further investigations.
While the police conducted a major one involving over $600M reportedly pilfered from the Public Service Ministry, the other audit files were handed over the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). A number of cases have been sent for legal advice.
With regards to the Public Service Ministry fraud, former minister, Dr. Jennifer Westford, and her assistant, Margaret Cummings, saw their charges in the alleged theft of $639M being dismissed because the court was convinced that the wrong charges were laid.
A number of other cases before the courts, including ones against former Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, and Winston Brassington, the former Privatisation Head, may be in jeopardy now because of the wrong charges too.
On Friday, President Granger, during his first press conference for the year, was asked about cases in context of the dismissal of the charges.
According to the President, the roles of Government should not be confused with what is taking place in the courts. He insisted that the Ministry of Legal Affairs is not a prosecutorial agency.
Rather, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is engaged in those prosecutions.
He said that Ministry of Legal Affairs is concerned with public law rather than criminal charges against individuals.
According to the President, the police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) have their responsibilities.
Acknowledging that prosecuting a corrupt person is not easy, the Head of State pointed out that a corrupt person or a criminal does not readily leave stolen money lying about, or invoices and vouchers.
Rather, he tries to protect…he tries to conceal the crime, and it is sometimes difficult to trace.
Granger made it clear that his Cabinet of Ministers is under very clear instructions to abide by the rulings of the court as is evident in the last Judicial Review Act.
“Cabinet took a decision that once the court has ruled, they will abide by the ruling of the court.”
Granger also noted that there is no “golden rule” that says that once a case is brought to the court the person will be found guilty.
“So the Minister of Legal Affairs is not a judge… the courts are the judges… the DPP is not the judge, the courts are the judges. The courts are the magistrates. So we have to look there to see where these cases are won and lost.”
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