‘Cutie’ touts ‘anti-corruption unit’

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Against the backdrop of a scandal which forced a government senator to resign, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin has announced the revival, under new legislation, of the “anti-corruption unit,” a defunct and little heard of division within the office of the attorney general.
Benjamin spoke to this reporter about the unit on the sidelines of the Cabinet Report for the Year 2017 – a live event on Wednesday at which the press and the public were able to question ministers of government.
“We are hoping to have it established as a separate and independent unit as in … it would be established outside the attorney general’s office,” Benjamin said, adding, “It must not appear that there is any influence at all on the functioning and work of the unit.”
Benjamin said he has requested assistance from the government of the United States (U.S.) and from the governments of member states of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) – a security co-operation group lead by the U.S. – to draft legislation to create a “separate and distinct” unit.
Interestingly, Benjamin claimed that the anti-corruption unit has existed for at least a decade. It has not been seen publicly to be doing much in the area of unearthing corruption.
He said Annette Mark, who this year resigned as chief immigration officer, was originally recruited from the Office of Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) and served as the Director of the Anti-Corruption Unit before moving to the Immigration Department.
Benjamin said the Gaston Browne administration was striving to be a “transparent and accountable government.”
Just Tuesday, in a written press statement Senator Michael Freeland announced that he would resign effective December 31 over an auction scandal in which he failed to immediately surrender to the government $119,866.50 in auction proceeds which he collected on the government’s behalf.

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