Former attorney general Justin Simon QC is hoping that the Integrity Commission will investigate the matter involving former tourism minister Asot Michael.
Michael was arrested and released in London last week after being questioned about allegations having to do with bribes being paid by a UK national for business contracts in the Caribbean.
Simon speaking on a radio programme on the weekend said the Integrity Commission is charged with investigating the conduct of public officials, including ministers of government.
He said the matter should not be allowed to “simply die” because we are waiting to see what unfolds in the UK or if no charges are laid against former minister Michael.
“We do have an Integrity Commission and we do have a code of conduct in respect to the behaviour of public officials, which includes ministers of government. The Integrity Commission has to address matters of integrity and if there has been a breach of the code of conduct as well as whether individuals have breached also the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act,” Simon said.
The Queen’s Counsel noted that the Commission has the powers to independently investigate complaints “it may have heard,” without a formal complaint being lodged.
Simon said the allegation for which Michael was question is very serious with far reaching effects, adding that integrity in public office is critical and should be maintained.
“If the Integrity Commission hears matters then it is under a duty on its own volition to make the necessary investigation, and I would hope that this would be done; And I would go further to say that if the prime minister has any information which allowed him to take the decision to remove Mr Michael immediately from the portfolio then clearly that information should be passed on to the Integrity Commission for them to do their own investigation, independent of the criminal investigation, which is being conducted.
“Let us deal with this matter at all angles and in all respects because at the end of the day the government and also Antigua and Barbuda, as an independent nation, is now under the microscope,” Simon said.
The former attorney general said it would be incumbent on Radford Hill, head of the Integrity Commission, to pursue the matter in the interest of the nation.
He said all eyes would be on the Commission to see what is done in this matter and “make a determination as to whether the Commission is serious or it is just yet another foot stool of the government that only acts in certain situations [and] fails to act when it ought to given the mandate it has under the legislation.”
Simon added also that it is important that the law enforcement agencies, including the police, the Office of National Drug Control and Money Laundering Policy (ONDCP) along with the Integrity Commission address this matter to the “fullest extent” and to inform the country of their findings.
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What hypocrisy! Didn’t the John Ashe scandal just die? Where were the Integrity Commission and the ONDCP when they “heard” of the bribes he received and shared with a former Prime Minister and the Junior Minister in his ministry. Didn’t the then Attorney General think it was in the nation’s interest to have those frauds investigated? Come on, QC, if you can’t be fair and impartial, SHUT UP!!
Very interesting. It is clear urinating in public, the incident involving Elmo with an unwilling businessman and the latest groping of a young teenage girl simply was not enough for the integrity commission to probe him.
Only when they have been caught with their pants down do they want to do anything if at all they do. It may well be just another case of smoke and mirrors.
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