Guyanese diplomats fail to declare assets to Integrity Commission

In a public notice issued on Saturday, February 2, 2019, the Office of the Integrity Commission published the names of 66 persons who are required by law to declare their assets but failed to submit their declarations. Among the names of the identified defaulters whom the Integrity Commission publicly called out were 20 of Guyana’s diplomats. The published names were in accordance with Section 19 of the Integrity Commission Act, the Integrity Commission and the deadline was listed as January 25, 2019.
The diplomats included Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil, George Talbot, Ambassador to Belgium, David Hales; Ambassador to Cuba, Halim Majeed; Ambassador to Kuwait, Dr Shamir Ally; Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George; Ambassador/Permanent Representative to United Nations, Michael Ten-Pow; Ambassador/Permanent Representative to Switzerland, John Ronald Deep Ford; Venezuelan Ambassador Cheryl Miles, and Ambassador to the United States of America, Dr Riyad Insanally. Meanwhile, the High Commissioners named were Clarissa Riehl (Canada); Hamley Case (London); Dr Kenneth Hunte (South Africa); Bishwaishwar Ramsaroop (Trinidad & Tobago).
Other Counsel Generals were also identified as defaulters. Within the Legal Affairs Ministry, former Solicitor General Joycelin Kim Kyte-Thomas and Deputy Permanent Secretary (DPS), Tamika Barkoye were named by the Integrity Commission. There was one official each from the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry, Education Ministry and Social Protection Ministry identified while six Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) defaulters were named including Head of Political Division, Fredrick McWilfred and Political Assistant Ronald Backer.
Six Public Infrastructure Ministry officials secured places on the list while four from the MOTP’s Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport garnered places. The Director of Dance at the National Dance School and the acting Administrator of the National Cultural Centre were identified. Additionally, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Small Business Bureau, Lowell Porter made the list.
There were 14 officials from the Communities Ministry who did not submit declarations to the Integrity Commission while one of the largest Ministries, the Agriculture Ministry, had six officials failing to meet the January 25 deadline.
This included former Permanent Secretary George Jervis who now functions as Director of the Agricultural Sector Development Unit. Chairman of Guyana Fisheries Limited, Mohamed Khan was also named as a defaulter.
In the past, Members of Parliament (MPs) including Government Ministers had been listed among those who did not honour obligations as set out in Section 19 of the Integrity Commission Act. The law, in fact, states: “Where a person who is required to do so fails to file a declaration in accordance with this Act or to furnish particulars under section 18, the Commission or the President, as the case may be, shall publish the fact in the Gazette and in a daily newspaper.”
The Commission has the mandate to improve public confidence in the integrity of persons in public office by ensuring that they submit their declarations in compliance with the Integrity Commission Act.
The Commission is responsible for the accountability of persons holding public office but prior to February 2018, the Body had been reportedly functioning with skeletal staff after the resignation of the Commission’s Chairman, Bishop Randolph George in 2006. Its current Commissioners are Chairman Kumar Doraisami, Rabindranauth Persaud, Rosemary Benjamin-Nobel and Thandi McAllister.