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Jan 16, 2020

Integrity Commission and Campaign Financing in Light of Dermen Scandal

Dean Barrow

The Lev Dermen debacle, the recent political scandal to plague the Barrow administration, brings to light the importance of the Integrity Commission, as well as a need for campaign finance regulations.  With allegations being made against two U.D.P. government officials who were the recipients of monthly twenty-five thousand U.S. dollar payouts from the accused Armenian/American businessman, there is a renewed focus on the annual declaration of assets.  Likewise, light is being shone on the lack of regulations to oversee the contribution of monies to political campaigns.  While the Integrity Commission is virtually nonexistent, or, at best, it works quietly in the background, there is no law on the books to control how much money can be donated in support of a political candidate.  At a press conference held by Prime Minister Barrow on Wednesday, he noted that the declaration of assets between 2013 and 2018 did not reflect anything unusual to suggest that Cabinet Ministers saw an unexplained increase in yearly earnings.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Every member of Cabinet, every member of the National Assembly must file, as you know, an annual declaration of assets.  If anything suspicious had in fact been included in the declaration of assets that have been filed certainly since 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, surely the Integrity Commission would have had something to say.  It might be that the minister could make a hell of case saying, “Where is the proof that this was other than a campaign contribution from someone that I knew to who supported me?  And that I know the laws in Belize, much to my chagrin, that regulate campaign finance contributions, but I wouldn’t need to get into that sort of an argument with the minister, would I?  Because even if that could be shown to be true, you lied to me and you lied to Cabinet in saying that you did not receive any money.  Q.E.D.  That in itself is a basis for me to say sir, madam, you cannot stay in the cabinet that I lead.”

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