by Linda Straker
- Integrity Commission acted in accordance with the law
- Investigation will cover the period 2013 to 2018
- Public Life Act governs operations of the Integrity Commission
A High Court Judge in Grenada on Friday ruled that the Integrity Commission acted in accordance with the law when it began its inquiry into the allegation of Financial Wrongdoings by board members of Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).
In September 2018, the commission announced via a news release that “further to media reports and statements circulating with regard to concerns about the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB), the Integrity Commission, on its own initiative, commenced investigations into the current and past affairs at the Board, from early August 2018.”
During a news conference on 31 July 2018, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced that the cabinet endorsed a recommendation for a thorough investigation, which was put forward by him as the minister who has oversight for MNIB.
The Integrity Commission is an independent body and research confirmed that the cabinet had no knowledge about the decision of commission.
The cabinet, Prime Minister Mitchell explained made its decision against the backdrop of revelations about the possible inappropriate use of MNIB funds by a new board. The Prime Minister acknowledged then that a lot has gone wrong at the MNIB and the investigation will cover the period 2013 to 2018.
Ruel Edwards who served as the immediate Chief Executive Officer of the statutory board, challenged the decision of the commission in court, claiming that it had no right to conduct an inquiry without a written complaint.
Commenting on the decision after the judgment was read in court on Friday, Ruggles Ferguson, one of the lawyers who are representing the commission said, “Essentially what the court is saying in the judgement is that once there is an allegation of corruption or suspicious of corruption, the commission can act on it, and in this case, the allegation was published by a newspaper in a series of articles. One of the articles even had quotes from a former chairman of the board.”
The Public Life Act which is one of the pieces of legislation governing the operations of the Integrity Commission provides for the commission to conduct investigations into any state own enterprise. The MNIB is one of more than 20 state-owned enterprises.
Under the rules of the court, Edwards who is represented by former attorney general Cajeton Hood, has 42 days to file an appeal to the OECS Court of Appeal.