Attorney General Dale Marshall has introduced another means by which high-level corruption can be remedied beyond jail time for offending officials.
As he introduced the Remediation Agreement Bill to the House of Assembly, Marshall said: “As we have looked at issues regarding corruption, people normally think of it in terms of ‘locking up’ the parties involved, but have we asked ourselves whether there should be an opportunity for remediation or redemption?”
Remediation agreements are common in the United Kingdom and Canada, the AG noted, adding that the Turks and Caicos Islands had resolved a corruption scandal in which the regional hotel chain Sandals ended up paying a fine of $24 million (US$12 million) to the British Overseas Territory’s government.
Under that 2013 agreement, Sandals, which owns the Beaches resort in Turks and Caicos, paid the sum without any admission of liability by the company, its directors and officers.
The deal came out of a special prosecutor’s investigation in the Turks and Caicos. The prosecution unit was formed after a Commission of Inquiry found evidence of widespread corruption.
In the House, Marshall said: “This fine was imposed as a means to force the company to make recompense for its wrongdoing, because while people generally think that if governments find themselves in these situations with companies they should have nothing more to do with them, at the end of the day, we must remember that some of these companies are major contributors to the economy in terms of the number of people they employ and so on.
“The organisation and the authorities will enter into discussions where the party accused of corruption has to fully disclose all aspects of the alleged incident, namely the people involved, the nature of the alleged offence, and to subject themselves to a penalty, whether it is paying a fine, or in the case of an environmental issue, cleaning up the affected area or compensating residents who might have suffered as a result of their actions.
“Other options include contributing to charities or implementing compliance procedures within their organisations.”
He noted that the remedial agreements are not meant to single out individuals within a company, “since in the case of a multi-national corporation, you will have board members who live all over the world, and it would not be possible to get all of them to come in and stand trial, especially if the places where they live have no such agreements with our jurisdiction”.
Marshall added that the High Court must agree with the terms and conditions laid out in the remediation agreements, and there is also a follow up process to ensure that the companies keep all the promises they make in them and stick to any time frames imposed when it comes to making any reparations.
He said: “If they do not, the agreement becomes void and the process has to start all over again. Also, a prosecutor may enter the agreement at any time, and if they find any reasons for criminal prosecution, the agreement is no longer valid and the matter has to go to trial.”