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Anti-corruption Law

Hon Samuel Bulgin JP

Following the recent announcement from the office of His Excellency the Governor that the Anti-corruption Commission has been appointed, the office of the Attorney General wishes to now formally remind the public that the Anti-corruption Law is now in effect as of 1st January 2010.

According to the Attorney General, the Law will have a very significant impact on not just public officials but also persons in the private sector and members of the general public that interface with public officials.

The Attorney General is suggesting that everyone who does business with public bodies should acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Anti-corruption Law.

According to the Attorney General the Law covers public offices from Justices of the Peace, to the Legislative Assembly and Cabinet. It also covers persons serving on all Statutory Board/Authorities, Tribunals and Commissions of Enquiry, as well as Jurors.

The Law covers a range of offences from bribery of public officers and members of the Legislative Assembly, frauds on government, contractors subscribing to election fund, breach of trust by public officials and members of the Legislative Assembly, abuse of office, bribing foreign public officials, and conflict of interests among others.

Of particular relevance to all public officers, especially to those who have volunteered to serve on Statutory Boards, Tribunals, etc., is the concept of "conflict of interest", which is covered in the Law.

The Law mandates that where a government entity of which a public officer or MLA is a member, director, or employee, proposes to deal with a company, partnership, etc., and where the public officer, MLA or a member of the family or an associate of such persons has any interests, direct or indirect, and holds more than ten per cent of the total issued share capital or total equity participation in such company or partnership or similar entity the public officer, or MLA shall forthwith make a written disclosure to the relevant government entity of the nature of such interest.

Any public officer or MLA who fails to disclose an interest as stipulated by the Law and who proceeded to vote or otherwise takes part in the proceedings of the entity relating to such interest commits an offence and could face prison time of up to five years if convicted.

The Attorney General suggests that in instances where public officers and others are in doubt it is advisable to seek legal advice or simply recuse themselves from the proceedings.

The Attorney General is urging all relevant persons who will be impacted by this Law to acquire a copy of the Law and familiarise themselves with its provisions.

The public authority charged with administering this Law will be the Anti-corruption Commission which in due course will be embarking on a public awareness campaign to sensitise the public more fully on the various provisions of the Law and the role of the Commission.