The office of the Integrity Commission in Grenada has credited the local media for promoting what has been dubbed an investigation into allegations of misappropriation of public funds at the Grenada Marketing and National Importing Board (GMNIB).
Addressing members of the media during a press conference at the Public Workers Union (PWU) building on Wednesday, members of the commission admitted that while their mandate affords them the flexibility to legally pursue a matter involving public officials or public entities from a source they deem relevant, the information, which prompted investigation into alleged meddling of public funds at the MNIB was only drawn to their attention after it appeared in the media.
The issues surrounding the MNIB fiasco had been a topical one in recent times but took a different turn when the MNIB failed to honour its financial commitment to regional suppliers allegedly due to a shortage of finances and the transfer of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ruel Edwards to an elevated posting at the Ministry of Finance.
Addressing Wednesday’s press conference Commissioner Elizabeth Greenidge said based on the Integrity in Public Life Act of 2013 and the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 15 of 2007 the commission has the authority to investigate any public body wherein lies information that suggests wrongdoing.
Speaking to why the commission decided to undertake a private investigation into the affairs at MNIB rather than the public investigation alluded to by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, Chairperson of the Commission Mrs Anande Trotman-Joseph said because the commission investigates all types of corruption, when the red flag was raised in the MNIB’s case they had no choice but to get into action, and therefore on August 2nd a full investigation was launched.
Deputy Chairman of the Commission Robert Robinson told the conference that based on their mandate, the commission is guided solely by what is laid down in the legislation and is not subjected to the direction or control of any person or authority except by a court of law.
Robinson who is also Chairman the Technical Panel said having been instructed to go deeper into the investigation of MNIB, their findings would remain confidential until such time as it reaches the stage when it is necessary to be made public.
While no time frame has been given as it relates to the completion of their investigation, the chairman said to date the commission has given notice to bodies of interest to their investigation process on completion of which a report would be made public through the Governor General.
Meanwhile, responding to questions from the media that sought to challenge the very integrity of the commission, wherein a member of the commission who sits as auditor of the MNIB could also be implicated in the ongoing investigation process, Chairman Trotman said they are on top of the situation and are guided by certain principles that deal with such eventualities and therefore that commissioner Rupert Agostini has since excused himself from anything to do with the investigation of MNIB.