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May 12, 2017

P.M. Says There Is No Legal Basis for Retrospective Decision by Commission

Dean Barrow

Outside the House, the Prime Minister refused to take blame for the delay in the appointment of the Commission, repeating that circumstances in that appointment were beyond his control. He was referring to the risk of politically exposed persons, or PEPs, refusing to take up seats on the Commission and open themselves to strict scrutiny of their personal business and finances. While he was clear that he personally followed the law, it appears that members of both major parties objected to a decision on retrospectively asking for declarations and reacted accordingly.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I don’t have a problem, in the normal course, going back as far as they would like, except practically speaking there would have been difficulties; but I am convinced that as a matter of law they had no authority to require that retrospective filing. I was not the only one; I am telling you that there were people on the other side, on Mr. Briceño’s side, who felt the same way; and – I don’t know if formally or informally – indicated to the Commission, ‘we are not going to comply, because you don’t have the law on your side.’ The commission reconsidered the matter – I believe [they] sought legal advice – and concluded that indeed, they could not go back, they could not have jurisdiction, over a time when they were not in office, they were not Commissioners, and that is all that it is. And I pointed out to Mr. Briceño – while initially the first decision was, I believe, a majority decision; when they reconsidered, and they reversed that decision, it was unanimous in terms of all the members present and voting. Ms. Balderamos-Mahler, as I understand it, was not at that meeting, but the other P.U.P.-appointed Commission member, the other Commission member chosen by the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Claudet Grinage – she voted for the new position, because obviously, the people genuinely have become convinced that under law, they are unable to require us to go back the five years that they had first cited.”

 

Reporter

“How would you answer to the accusation that that is a situation that you created by not having constituted the Commission?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“But not having constituted the Commission for so many years was not a matter not within my control. If you want to be linear and literal you could make the point that you did. There was no Commission for a number of years and as a consequence there was a hiatus; there was this gap in which clearly, there were no submissions in terms of assets. But that’s water under the bridge; there is a Commission now and we make the start to be consistent with the life of this Commission; to be consistent with the authority and when it began of this Commission.”

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