Bill would remake Anti-Corruption Commission

A new proposal to remake the Anti-Corruption Commission would mandate that all five members of the commission be appointed by the governor, and remove the police commissioner, the auditor general and the complaints commissioner.

The bill, which could be debated as soon as the end of this month, would also give the Anti-Corruption Commission the power to hire its own investigators instead of using police officers seconded from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The commission is currently made up of two members appointed by the governor and the three public officers, with the police commissioner as chair. The Anti-Corruption Commission is tasked with investigating allegations of public corruption and forwarding its investigations to the Department of Public Prosecutions when they believe someone broke the law.

The commission came under fire earlier this year when it emerged that it had not met in more than 12 months. Its membership too has been up in the air as the complaints commissioner post has been open since January 2015, and the auditor general left his position in July, leaving acting heads of those offices. With the recent announcement that Police Commissioner David Baines would be leaving his post at the end of May, the three public officers on the commission will all be acting heads of their respective departments.

“The biggest thing is going to be the composition of the commission,” Deborah Bodden, manager of the Commissions Secretariat, said.

The change will mean that all five members will have to be appointed to the commission. The amendments give the commission the option to invite the auditor general or police commissioner to attend meetings and give reports on their work, but they will not be voting members.

The bill also changes the terms for members from five years to three years or less, based on the discretion of the governor. Under the proposal members will be eligible for reappointment for a second term.

New staff

Other amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law, if approved, would give the commission the ability to hire its own investigators. The current law gives the commission investigators seconded from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The new investigating officers would be employed directly by the commission.

“They’d have all the necessary powers to conduct anti-corruption-related investigations,” Ms. Bodden said. The investigators would have the ability to investigate possible corruption-related crimes and make arrests. Corruption offenses, as noted in the law, include bribery, defrauding the government, selling or purchasing a public office, abusing office, making false statements to the commission, and other similar offenses.

The amendments include a section specifically noting that the commission’s investigators are not subject to direction or control by the police commissioner or governed under the Police Law. The police, however, will take custody of a suspect after the commission’s officers make an arrest.