The anti-corruption discourse in our country usually rationalises the failure or refusal to prosecute any important persons for corrupt acts as being a result of our small size. After all, everyone has a friend who will see for them. Those friends will warn them, lie for them, forget for them or even lose a file or two for them. We have all had these frustrating discussions and wondered if we can ever muster the will or the wits to lock-up the important people who regularly commit acts of grand corruption.

corruptionWhen one considers the global news on this anti-corruption struggle, it is clear that in some substantial way the tide has turned. In a variety of countries, the citizens have become so outraged at the damage that large-scale corruption has done to their societies that the authorities there have now started to take decisive action against this scourge. It all makes me wonder when is the Caribbean going to catch-up with the rest of the world in punishing these destructive acts.

I have to say that it is very disheartening to consider that some 50 years or so after achieving independence, so many of our countries appear to be in the actual control of these large-scale criminals. I am from the Independence Generation and it appears that we, together with some of those who went before, have squandered the chance to create new arrangements to repair the great damage inflicted on our people during the colonial period. We really and truly have lost our way, I am sorry to say. It is so serious that we actually have educated people saying openly that it would be better if we had remained as UK colony, or maybe we should just invite some fresh country to re-colonise us. That is how bad the despair has gotten.

I therefore smiled in surprise while reading this 2016 story from our tiny neighbour, Grenada, with a population of about 110,000.

finton-debourg
A sad looking Finton DeBourg as he was led away by Police Escorts out of the court Tuesday to spend the next 24 years in prison

On 20th December 2016, the High Court in Grenada sentenced Capital Bank International’s CEO and Chairman, Finton De Bourg, to 23 years in prison for 6 counts of fraud. The reports indicate that the offences were committed between 2002 and 2008. The 66-year-old De Bourg was also ordered to repay $16M EC within 5 years of his release, failing which he would face a further 3 years’ imprisonment.

One can scarcely imagine any such prosecution or conviction, far less imprisonment, taking place in our country. After all, we are too small.

The only conclusion I can see is that size does not really matter, what is important is the motivation to do the right thing, That type of motivation is sadly lacking here, with our police failing to pursue solid reports submitted with all the evidence.

We have to do better.

The International attack on corruption

These are a few recent extracts to show the shift I referred to – only the opening paras are cited. Although these countries are all larger than ours, the range of examples only make the Grenadian conviction and imprisonment all the more remarkable.

ISRAEL (pop 8.2M)

Sara Netanyahu’s fraud and breach of trust trial begins in Jerusalem
From The Guardian/Associated Press of 7th October 2018

“…Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife appeared in court on Sunday for the start of her trial over alleged fraud and breach of trust, drawing renewed attention to the many scandals plaguing her husband and their family…”

GUATEMALA (pop 15.8M)

Guatemala ex-VP Roxana Baldetti jailed in ‘Magic Water’ scandal
from BBC News 10th October 2018

“…A court in Guatemala has sentenced the former vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, to 15 years and six months in jail for her role in what became known as the “Magic Water” scandal…”

SOUTH KOREA (pop 51.3M)

South Korea jails former president Lee for 15 years on corruption charges
From Reuters of 5th October 2018

“…A Seoul court on Friday jailed former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for 15 years for corruption, making him the latest in a string of high-profile political and business leaders ensnared by graft charges…”

NIGERIA (pop 182M)

Nigeria secures 188 convictions for corruption since January 2018 Says EFCC boss
From Ghana Business News of 28th September 2018

“…In the country’s fight against corruption, Nigeria has convicted some 188 people since January 2018. The Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu told the VOA in an interview monitored in Accra Sunday September 30, 2018…”

KENYA (pop 45M)

DPP Orders Prosecution of Governor Cornel Rasanga Over Corruption
From Kenyans.co.ke on 29th September 2018

“…The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has approved the prosecution of Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga after he was accused of embezzling public funds.
The Governor who is now in his second term has been accused of using taxpayers money to purchase plane tickets for his family members in the course of three years…”

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3 thoughts on “Does Size really Matter?

  1. My experience teaches me that scapegoats are very often the targets of anti-corruption scandals. The money trail left in the US after the 2008 fiscal plunder points to CEOs and others who are either still in office or are senators / advisors and in general making larger incomes. We do not actually know if Bernard Madoff is still in jail or has acquired a new identity. Expatriates are another group of thieves who get diplomatic immunity. If we examine the accusations that are never fully investigated or those not investigated at all, we can see how tainted are our and many global cases of corruption. Many lawyers scoff at the thought that there is justice at any level and are repelled by the upper level treatment of it. As you know, the fact that a man is sentenced is no guarantee that he will either serve his sentence or repay fines. Appeals take so long that even those concerned lose track of developments.
    “All ah we tief” was proclaimed by Desmond Cartey in 1986 and from country to country the masses know that big business and politics and religion are untouchable paths to become or remain super-rich.
    In September 2016, Obama gave Israel NOT Palestine 38 billion dollars for arms purchase. See here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-statement/u-s-israel-sign-38-billion-military-aid-package-idUSKCN11K2CI
    Many legal deals reek with corruption and there is a code of silence that is honoured by those who benefit from it. We are eons away from becoming sane, humane and / or peace-loving. Size does matter, but it is monetary.

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