Give the Attorney General three months and he will update the law to punish corrupt public officials and politicians that is nearly two months shy of 90 years old, he said today.
Speaking in the House of Assembly during debate on an amendment to the Proceeds of Crime Act, Marshall stated: “I am not happy that I am dealing with a 1929 piece of legislation and I do not intend for this to continue indefinitely. Hopefuly within the next three months, Barbados will have a new piece of legislation dealing with the prevention of corruption.
“It is an embarrassment that we should be in 2019 dealing with an act in which the maximum fine is $2,500; that was a huge sum in 1929, but it is trifling now. While we could change the fines, it is still an archaic piece of legislation and increasing the fine from $2,500 to $250,000 would not get us to where we need to be”.
Speaking to the bill before the House, he noted that the Proceeds of Crime Act was primarily related to drug offences, but in 2011, the last Government had added the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Prevention and Control Act to it, but did not enforce it at any time.
“If the government wants to investigate a financial institution to look at the movement of money associated with an individual suspected of corruption, it cannot do so in the law’s current form,” Marshall said.
He noted that in its original form, the Proceeds of Crime Act was introduced in 1990, a time when Barbados was considered a “clean” jurisdiction where corruption was concerned.
But the Attorney General declared that the situation in Barbados was now very different: “We know now how bad corruption is here, so we are committed to rooting out the corruption. To this end, we are planning to set up an anti-corruption agency, which will require its own pieces of legislation as we have never had anything like that in Barbados before. This agency will ferret out and prosecute any corrupt activities, and we will empower the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Office to enter financial institutions and request information on people who have committed, or have been suspected of committing, offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act”.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, first enacted on June 21, 1929, when Barbados was a colony during the reign of King George V, was to be replaced by a modern act that was passed in 2012, but which has never been given the royal assent which would bring it into force.