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OAS ANTI-CORRUPTION MECHANISM ADOPTS REPORT FOR THE BAHAMAS
At its Twenty-Fifth Meeting, held March 16 – 20, the Committee of Experts of the Follow-up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) adopted the country report for The Bahamas on the implementation of this treaty in the context of the Fourth Round of Review of the Mechanism.
A significant portion of the report focused on examination of those oversight bodies in The Bahamas with the responsibility for the prevention, detection, punishment and eradication of acts of corruption. Accordingly, the report examines the Office of the Attorney General, the Public Disclosure Commission, the Department of the Auditor General, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Compliance Commission. The progress made by The Bahamas in relation to the recommendations of the First Round of the MESICIC was also reviewed.
The examination was carried out taking into account response by The Bahamas to a questionnaire, information gathered by the Technical Secretariat, and, as a new and important source of information, an on-site visit conducted September 23 - 25, 2014. This visit was carried out by Costa Rica, as well as a member of the MESICIC Technical Secretariat. During that visit, the review team met with representatives of the aforementioned government institutions as well with civil society organizations, the private sector, professional associations and academics.
Some of the recommendations formulated to The Bahamas for its consideration in connection with the aforementioned bodies are, among others, the following:
Regarding the oversight bodies generally, provide the proper resources needed for the proper performance of their functions.
With regard to the Office of the Attorney General, subject to its Constitution and the fundamental principles of its legal system, consider establishing an independent prosecutorial service; include in the Manual for Public Prosecutions an overview on practices and policies relevant to prosecution of acts of corruption, including that of transnational bribery; and implement mechanisms to ensure that there is adequate coordination between and oversight of police prosecutors by the Department of Public Prosecutions, in the event that police prosecutors are assigned to prosecute corruption offenses.
Regarding the Public Disclosure Commission, consider establishing provisions that set out that the Public Disclosure Commission is independent in exercising its functions under the Public Disclosure Act; establish and update on a periodic basis a website; implement electronic means for completing a declaration as well as for submission by those subject to the Public Disclosure Act; and consider establishing the requirement for publication of an annual report by the Public Disclosure Commission on its activities carried out within a year.
Pertaining to the Department of the Auditor General, consider complying with the Financial Administration and Audit Act, 2010 by promulgating the Financial Regulations; provide the Department greater autonomy in the preparation and presentation of its budget; comply with the statutory timeframe for presenting an annual report by the Department of the Auditor General; and consider providing the Auditor General the legal basis to report an irregularity, such as fraudulent activity, to appropriate authorities, such as the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Office of the Attorney General.
With respect to the Financial Investigation Unit, coordinate with other oversight bodies to provide training to governmental, private institutions, financial institutions and the general public in detecting acts of corruption as related to the work of the Financial Intelligence Unit; seek out training opportunities for the staff of the Financial Intelligence Unit on anti-corruption matters as it relates to its work, from international partners and organizations; and take steps to ensure that all financial institutions put in place appropriate risk management systems to determine whether a customer is a politically exposed person.
Some of the recommendations formulated to The Bahamas in the First Round that are still pending or have been reformulated address issues such as: establishing or adapting and then implementing standards of conduct for those offices that currently do not fall under the purview of any controls, including adequate sanctions for violations of those standards; establish reporting requirements for those public officials and employees who are currently not required to report to appropriate authorities acts of corruption in the performance of public functions; enact a Freedom of Information Act that that regulates and facilitates the access by the public to information in the control of public institutions; and notify the OAS General Secretariat formally of the designation of the central authority, pursuant to the prescribed formalities.
The Bahamas also provided information, for inclusion in the report, the SWIFT Justice Initiative as a best practice for incorporating detection, investigative, prosecutorial and punishment elements and seeking to facilitate collaboration between the institutions and agencies within the justice system.
During this Twenty-Fifth Meeting, similar reports were adopted for Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the United States and Venezuela. The report of The Bahamas adopted by the Committee, as well as those of the aforementioned countries, is available at:http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/mesicic4_rep.htm
Edition N° 228 - March 2015
The Mechanism For Follow-up on the
Implementation of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption, known as MESICIC for its Spanish acronym, is a tool to
support the development of the Inter-American
Convention against Corruption through
cooperation between States Parties.
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