by Donella Hosten
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) collaborated with Grenada’s Integrity Commission Office to host a 2-day Training Workshop on Asset Declaration.
The workshop commenced on Wednesday, 13 December at the Coyaba Hotel. Staff from the Integrity Commission, including the chairman, Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson QC, auditors, a delegation from Belize, Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean, Virginia de Abajo-Marqués and Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor, Tim Steele.
In Grenada, public officers and public officials are required by the Integrity in Public Life Act 2013 to declare their assets. In her brief welcome, Lady Trotman-Joseph, stated that the Integrity Commission’s Office small staff of 8 persons is very important, and that they lead by example. “We, in keeping with the spirit of transparency and accountability, we have declared every year that we have served, to the Governor-General.”
Additionally, she stated that of the 705 persons who have been notified to declare their assets, 587 have already done so. According to her, the law requires the commission to follow up with those who have not yet complied, and, if these persons fail to do so, they can be gazetted and legal action taken.
De Abajo-Marqués spoke on behalf of the facilitators. She reiterated the obligation Grenada has made since the implementation of the United Nation’s Convention Against Corruption, which she said, means that ‘there is a political commitment by the country to progressively adhere to the universal standards enshrined in such an international instrument.’ This has been signed on to since May 2015, and since then, the UNODC has been assisting Grenada.
One of the main goals of the workshop was to teach the participants the best means and tools to identify illicit enrichment, as well as the best practices to flag red alerts regarding asset declaration. Although this is not necessarily easy, the Declaration Act ‘can be a tremendous tool to identify a wealth increase.’
Additionally, de Abajo-Marqués stated, “The ultimate goal is to enhance the capacity of these officers to identify illicit enrichment, conflict of interest and at the end, corruption.” This meant the workshop would be more practical than theoretical.
Main facilitator Tim Steele added that persons will be taught to identify certain ‘red flags’ which include someone not spending salaries, their lifestyles, or them having much more than they are expected to have, depending on their salary and number of years of service. He added that it is of paramount importance to check for legitimate sources prior to further investigations: “Just because someone is rich, doesn’t mean they have done something wrong. There may be a legitimate source.”
The workshop concluded yesterday.