KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 28, IWN – Even in the absence of integrity legislation, corrupt official can be brought to court to answer for their actions, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on Monday.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, made the point as he responded to a statement by Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, that he does not foresee Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party administration passing integrity legislation here.
But Gonsalves said that the New Democratic Party (NDP), which Eustace now heads, had included integrity legislation in it manifesto in 1984, when it began 17 years as the government here.
He further said that Vincentians in 2009 rejected proposed changes to the Constitution, including an integrity commission provision.
“I put an integrity commission so I would embed it in the Constitution as one of the reform measures. They campaigned against the Constitution. The integrity commission was one of the issues voted down. I just want to remind people of that.
“But, I also want to up the ante for them (the NDP),” Gonsalves said, as he addressed specifically a reported allegation that investor Dave Ames had gone to Gonsalves’ office with a suitcase of money and left without it.
Both Ames and Gonsalves have said that the allegation is false.
“… if it is true, the allegation which they are making, I could be charged under Section 85 of the Criminal Code. You don’t need an integrity legislation for this,” said Gonsalves a lawyer.
He further read from the section, which says that an official involved in corruption can be jailed for three years.
“We need to have more provisions, but there are provisions to deal with official corruption,” Gonsalves said.
“So, what I am saying to them, if you have the evidence, you claim you making the allegation, go an swear affidavits in England, swear the affidavits here on your so-called evidence information and let the authorities investigate what you say. Don’t use hit and run tactics.
“Because, you see, if you go an swear an affidavit, whether in England or in St. Vincent, which is false, you swear an oath which is false, or you make a declaration which is false, It is a criminal offence. That’s what’s Vynnette is facing,” he further said, in reference to opposition Senator, Vynnette Frederick who is charged with three counts of “falsely swearing before Miss Fay James, a person authorised to administer the oath”.
He said the opposition would not swear to an affidavit “because they will fear the consequences for themselves.
“So, they’re playing hit and run,” Gonsalves further stated.
“And the reason why I take this position on this matter, I haven’t received any money and I didn’t ask for any and they shouldn’t be traducing an honest man…” Gonsalves said.