Secrecy of Undeclared Gifts a Heavy Burden

December 2022 exposed a practice that questioned the effectiveness of one of the anti-corruption measures instituted in accordance with the Public Life Act. That act guides the actions of public servants in Grenada while the “gift registry” is one of the accountability mediums for people who hold public office. 

It was in December 2022 that Richard Duncan, Chairman of the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Committee returned a “Christmas gift” to Bo Xu, Chief Executive Officer, Mt Hartman Development Ltd. In the return to sender letter, Duncan explained that “The value of the above-mentioned items is incongruent with the Grenada Citizenship by Investment code of business conduct and ethics policy.”  There is no evidence that such a policy was ever published in gazette as part of the Public Life regulation but Section 45, Sub-section one of the Integrity in 2013 Public Life Act says, “A person in public life shall not accept any gift or reward from any person.” 

Lawyer Gillian Bristol who was appointed as the third chairperson of the Integrity Commission said the Public Life law  provides guidance, but the onus is on the person in public life to conduct themselves “so they will not breach what is in the Act.”

Referring specifically to Section 45 subsection 2(b) of the legislation, Bristol says out that the one exception that accepting a gift from a “dignitary” to ensure that a foreign officer is not offended. Bristol said that the law provides for that gift such gift must “to be registered with the Commission”. Despite the limitation, the act says that a public officer can accept gifts from:

(a) a community organisation on a social occasion which represents the creativity of that organisation; and

(b) a foreign dignitary, where the person in public life has reasonable grounds to believe that the refusal to accept the gift may offend the foreign dignitary”

The Public Life Act also instructs, that a person in public life who accepts a “gift or a reward” “shall make a report to the Commission of that fact in the prescribed manner within seven days of the receipt of the gift.” There is much uncertainty about the number of gifts given to, received or refused by public officials since the gift registry became operational in 2019.

Oil Secrets of Suriname: Public Largely in the Dark as Offshore Dreams Deferred

For the people of Suriname, offshore oil is supposed to be a game-changer. As they have struggled through a protracted economic crisis over the past decade, they have watched lucrative deep-water discoveries transform neighbouring Guyana. They have also heard their own leaders promise that a similar oil boom will come soon to Suriname, bringing badly needed jobs and wealth for the country’s more than 600,000 people and helping resolve a debt crisis that recently led to riots in the capital. But the people are still waiting. The Final Investment Decision for Suriname’s first deep-water drilling project has been deferred repeatedly, and mounting frustration with the delay has highlighted the secrecy surrounding the nascent industry. 

“We should at least know what kind of contracts have been made, and don’t come up with stories that it’s confidential between us and [foreign oil companies],” Surinamese environmentalist Erlan Sleur told the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.

Procurement, Special Projects and Citizenship By Investment

St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the smallest states within the Western Hemisphere as well as within  the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. The Federation boasts a strong economy but even as it claims success in this aspect, there are serious concerns that its laws do not go far enough to minimize or stamp out corruption and corrupt practices. Attempts are now being made to remedy that situation through legislative amendments but progress is slow towards completion, especially the Tender and Procurement Legislation, which continues to be a major suggested area of corruption. For many years, there have been murmurs over the way successive governments have been operating the Tender and Procurement Processes, and whether they have been honouring the parameters of the laws of the land. 

With a population of more than 53,000, St.