Anti-corruption board coming

A revised Anti-Corruption Bill for the Cayman Islands will create a five member commission to police corrupt practices by lawmakers, public servants and private individuals who do business with government entities.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will be led by the police commissioner, and include as members the complaints commissioner, the auditor general and two members appointed by the governor who must be either retired judges, retired lawyers or retired police officers.

Under the proposal the five commission members are required to consider any report of a corruption offence. Some of those offences include bribery of lawmakers, defrauding government entities, breach of trust by public officers, and attempts to buy or sell public offices.

The Anti-Corruption Bill itself would create a wide range of punishments for corrupt practices within public office, and for those who attempt to improperly influence public officials. If approved, the bill would replace criminal offences, which are now under the Penal Code for official corruption and false certificates by public officers.

The bill would require a vote of the full Legislative Assembly before it’s passed into law. Lawmakers could take up the proposal as early as this spring.

The commission would be given the authority to request information and take some action, where authorised by the Grand Court, which could include freezing bank accounts for up to 21 days or requesting searches be performed by constables.

With certain exceptions, anyone refusing to provide requested information to the commission can be fined and imprisoned for up to two years.

Those from whom information is requested can appeal for judicial review of the matter. Information protected by attorney-client privilege may also be exempted from disclosure to the commission.

If the commission finds evidence that a public official or private citizen has committed a corruption offence, it must present that evidence to the Cayman Islands Attorney General for further review.

Commissioners are also expected to provide the governor advice on matters, which come before them that could affect public policy.

The bill places the Anti-Corruption Commission under severe restrictions as to how much information it can disclose. Other than reporting to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the commission is not required to provide any information except where it is authorised to do so by the Grand Court.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has previously said that enacting anti-corruption laws in Cayman was an effort that had taken a number of years. He said a draft bill was presented to the LA as far back as 2003.

Mr. Bulgin said the delay was in part due to the United Kingdom government signing the UN Convention Against Corruption in December 2003.

Cayman has since incorporated various elements of that convention into its own bill, resulting in a proposal that was much wider in scope.