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May 14, 2021

Attorney Darrel Bradley Discusses Good Governance Reform Legislation

In response to pressure from the unions demanding the implementation of good governance legislation to support the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, this week Prime Minister John Briceño issued a document outlining pending legislation for three reforms. To put those commitments, now documented in writing, into perspective, New Five’s Paul Lopez spoke to attorney at law, Darrell Bradley.


Darrell Bradley, Attorney At Law

Darrell Bradley

“One of the things in terms of Whistle Blowers legislation, this is common across the world particularly in the united states, it protects persons with information and it really ensures that they are insolated against victimization or against penalties for coming forward, or essentially whistle blowing, or bringing to light information on governmental wrong doing. So the idea with whistle blowing legislation is nothing new. In some cases there is a financial incentive for people who are whistle blowers. You actually get a percentage of the money that the government can recover from illicit activity. But the thrust of any legislation is to protect individuals who come forward. Sometimes people who come forward in acts of corruption suffer threats to their life. In some cases they may be killed, they may lose their jobs, they may suffer reproductions. The major thrust of a legislation is to protect those person from coming forward.”


To recover public assets wrongfully acquired by public officials GOB committed to a Civil Asset Recovery Bill. This bill also covers unexplained wealth, by way of an unexplained Wealth Bill.


Paul Lopez

“What are we talking about there and why combine these Bills together?”


Darrell Bradley

“It is an important point because they need to have strong criminal laws in relation to illicit gains from public officials. I think when you target a civil asset recovery legislation and you tie that within the very important question of illicit gain by public officials, which is really an illegal activity that people should go to jail for, I think in a sense it diminishes the importance of what you are talking about. You really want to have a standalone legislation that deals with unjust enrichment that says very plainly any person that acquires wealth that cannot be explained, they will suffer penal consequences, including they can go to jail. So there has to be a civil recovery element of that. But first you want there to be a very strong deterrent for corrupt activities. That strong deterrent is that you go to jail. You have no right to the asset any way. What will really make it so that people don’t even think about touching public funds, or misappropriating public funds is the risk of imprisonment and serious penalties that is attached there. So I do believe that one of the things you rightfully mention, in terms of combining of the legislation itself, in one vain, it may weaken what you are talking about, because you want very strong criminal penalties.”


Campaign Finance Reform became a leading conversation months before the 2020 general elections.


Darrell Bradley

“Right now if I wanted to look at any of the campaigns in the United States, I could go on a website and I could know how much Donald trump raised in the last election for president in the US. I could how much Joe Biden raised. I could know how much Hillary Clinton raised. I remember one time I looked at the system in the United States. One of the things I was surprised about is how much money they actually spend on pizza. Because when you are in a campaign election who tend to feed a lot of volunteers, millions and millions of dollars in pizza. But that is a very transparent and robust systems. And that is something we need to adopt here in Belize. So that this is one of the areas of transparency legislation so that you will make the public aware in terms of how many money political parties and their agents are collecting. So that we will not have instances of Lev Dermen or other individual who are giving significant amount of monies to individual candidates and that money is being kept secret. The idea here is that elections should be dictated by the votes. And if you have an individual who is allowed to give one political candidate, fifty thousand dollars, a hundred thousand dollars, a million dollars, then clearly that person will have an undue influence in the political process.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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