The politics of corruption
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read reports that the Supreme Court will review the case against former Education Minister Ruel Reid and his co-accused Fritz Pinnock on February 7, 2023. The court will decide whether or not the accused have a case to answer over their alleged corrupt activities.
This case has been dragging along slowly since the two were arrested and charged in 2019. I’ve seen bank employees arrested for fraud and the courts complete trial and conviction in no time. Why are public officials treated differently?
In this case we’ve seen many delays, bail extensions, court dismissals, lawyers recusing themselves due to this or that reason and even questions raised related to settlement of employment contracts. If one is arrested for corruption and fraud, isn’t this a breach of contract with the employer, which could ultimately result in a hold of the settlement until the case is closed?
After months of probe involving the Major Organised Crime Agency (MOCA), the Financial Investigations Division (FID) and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Division (CTOC), we are still nowhere.
Reid, Pinnock and three others, including Reid’s wife and daughter, were arrested for allegations of corruption, fraud and misappropriating millions of dollars from the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University.
The organisations leading the probe are reputable, and the members must be frustrated. They are professionals in the field; and it is quite possible that by the time this case reaches trial, many would’ve retired, some migrated, and some might even pass on!
I am very curious to hear the defence of Pinnock, Reid and the others accused. Was the case brought against them maliciously? How will they explain the transactions? And how will Reid’s wife and daughter and the third co-accused explain themselves in this mess which cost taxpayers millions of dollars in public funds?
This is why many indulge in these types of crimes; they know that having a good team of lawyers will help to delay and frustrate the process. When justice is delayed, we are not shocked by an acquittal or the case being thrown out. Otherwise the case will quietly disappear as the public gets bored hearing about the long delays over several years.
Many are lured into corruption when they think they can get away with it, whether through political contacts within the system, or the system itself which cannot manage these cases effectively. Meanwhile, the country’s corruption index continues to soar. The few who get caught find ways to beat the system and escape conviction.
Fraud (unlike murder, assault, etc) is not difficult to prove in a court of law. You either have a case to answer to, or not. Follow the money and paper trail!
If you chose to do the crime, be prepared to also do the time!