Once More – No Penalty For Breach Of Trust In Barbados

Barbados Tells The World That Our Culture Doesn’t Take Integrity Seriously

Two days ago we highlighted how the Barbados Bar Association old boys network protects lawyers who steal from clients. A lawyer who stole $150,000 from a client received only a “reprimand” from the Discipline Committee and was allowed to continue to practice. (See Barbados Bar Association Condones Theft From Clients – And Destroys The Reputation Of Honest Bajan Lawyers)

Today the world is shown another story of our society’s failure to take breach of trust incidents seriously. Former Chief Marshal Belfield Randolph McCollin, who dipped into Government’s funds “as if they were his personal piggy bank” was handed a suspended sentence for seven convictions. The Court of Appeal found that the sentence by Mr. Justice Christopher Blackman was too lenient, but there is nothing can be done because the Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, did not appeal the sentence.

As it is, the crooked Mr. McCollin as a long time career civil servant will probably even keep his pension.

Barbados Has A Culture Of Zero Accountability

In Barbados public life we didn’t even say the words “Integrity”, “Transparency” or “Accountability” until it became fashionable in the last few years. But even though we say those words, every facet of our society declares the truth: we seldom hold people accountable for wrong doing, and further, we refuse to structure our government and business environments to make it easier to uncover wrong-doing and hold people accountable for their actions.

We don’t even have rules against the most basic conflicts of interest – for instance, there is no rule against an elected or appointed government official receiving a substantial gift from a person who is awarded government contracts from that official.

Our rules for corporate governance, financial institutions and the securities industries are laughable when compared to North America and Europe.

Our government operations are not transparent and successive administrations have refused to put laws in place that would allow the citizens to hold government officials accountable. Even our Chief Justice is a long time professional politician who was appointed to give the then BLP government control over the courts.

Every Bajan knows or senses that the corruption in government and the corporations doing business with the government reached unsustainable levels in the last few years of the previous BLP administration. There was massive fraud and mismanagement in a number of huge national projects. Consider just four: the GEMS Hotel Scandal, the ABC and flyover construction, Dodds Prison and Kensington Oval.

These projects add up to hundreds of millions of dollars – and we know that fraud occurred in each project. In the case of the the ABC/Flyover (3S) and the prison (VECO), both contractors have a proven record fraud and kickbacks in government contracts, yet our government declared that everything was ok here.

In the case of VECO and 3S, massive quantities of evidence exists in other jurisdictions that would probably undoubtedly send a few Bajan big-ups to jail.

But there was and will be no investigation by Barbados. No inquiry. No transparency to the public.

There will be no request by the current Barbados Government for the relevant evidence being held in other jurisdictions. (For prison-builder VECO there are hundreds of hours of recorded FBI tapes and hundreds of thousands of documents being held by the FBI – many of which relate directly to projects in Barbados.)

The Thompson government will not be requesting this evidence because it does not want to hold members of the last government to be personally accountable.

Probably something to do with throwing stones in glass houses. Or as a cynic would say – Honour among thieves.

We all know what that means.

The Thompson DLP Government Will Not Put Anyone In Jail

Folks, you can take what I’m about to tell you and pin it up on your wall forever… because it is true now and will remain true…

The Thompson DLP Government will not seek to hold anyone personally accountable for the well-known excesses of the last government, nor will they implement EFFECTIVE Integrity, Transparency and Integrity Legislation (ITAL) during their tenure.

The World Will Notice

This Bajan culture of corruption, of not putting anti-corruption measures in place and of not holding anyone personally responsible for wrong-doing is being noticed on the world stage. Foreign investors look at levels of corruption, but more importantly, they look at how our society and our courts deal with corruption – because that is an indication of what they can expect if all is not smooth sailing when they do business in or with Barbados.

Increasingly, the sad and dangerous truth is this: When people at certain levels are talking, the phrases “banana republic”, “you can’t trust Barbados” and “I’d be careful if I were you” are now being heard.

Further Reading

Nation News, April 25, 2008: Chief Marshal Job Vacant

Barbados Free Press: Barbados Bar Association Condones Theft From Clients – And Destroys The Reputation Of Honest Bajan Lawyers

This article was written by Marcus and Abidan, a friend from New York City.

16 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics

16 responses to “Once More – No Penalty For Breach Of Trust In Barbados

  1. 100

    Hope that the ITAL will come out by Heroes Day. We were promised and by goodness a promise means something.

    If it doesn’t, many who live, invest or holiday here may start to consider the possibilities of planning an exit strategy.

  2. Green Monkey

    I guess the moral of the story is if wunna gine tief, mek sure yuh tief big. Doan tief a can uh corn beef or a can of salmon from JB’s, an’ doan bop somebody over the head wid a bottle to tek the $100 bill in dem wallet. Mek sure you mek some big up friends, den tief at least a hundred thousand or so, so that when yuh get catch, yuh can trow yuhself pun de mercy uh de court (or de Bar Association) and get off wid a caution.

  3. I say….send a JuJu to each one of them and watch them run.

  4. Centipede

    well, they have a crook heading the Senate. That’s transparent, ain’t it?

  5. Nevermind pretzels

    Civil servant using his job to steal.

    That is good for two years in jail anywhere…

    …Anywhere except in Barbados.

  6. no name

    Please can anyone name the people who make up the Barbados Bar Association?

  7. anonlegal

    “A lawyer who stole $150,000 from a client received only a “reprimand” from the Discipline Committee and was allowed to continue to practice.”

    ————————————-

    Actually, technically speaking, the discplinary committee doesnt actually have the power to discpline Attorneys (i guess displinary committee is a misnomer).

    The discplinary committee of the Bar association makes findings which they report to the chief justice who arranges for the court of appeal to decide an attorney’s fate.

    I am not sure what happened in the particular situation you refer to above though (and I prefer not to rely on BFP for information)

  8. anonlegal

    I just read the nation story. It is a bit old but it seems that the court of appeal is hearing the arguments. The guy hasnt been punished yet, don’t you at BFP think that you should wait until the matter is finished before we start crying foul?

    **********

    BFP says

    Perhaps you had better re-read the story and then come back and revise your comment.

  9. Fool me once

    Anonlegal- where you been my man? You think this is the first case of the lawyers covering up for each other. You musta been born on another planet.

    You would think all other lawyers, who don’t dishonest things, would be howling for his head otherwise they all tarred with the same brush. But no they just carry on as if nothing happened…betting here is the Chief Justice gonna slap the man on the wrist and set him on his way course that’s cause the man got something on the Chief Justice from last time around.

    A lawyer steals money got to go to jail. Cept that here in Barbados he gets judge to let him go.

  10. reality check

    “The discplinary committee of the Bar association makes findings which they report to the chief justice who arranges for the court of appeal to decide an attorney’s fate.”

    And therein lies the problem

    the discipline committee needs to discipline and not have to go to a politically appointed judge who does not have clean hands who then passess it on to some of his politically appointed cronies.

  11. anonlegal

    According to the article the case was adjourned for the lawyer to prepare a defense. the disciplinary committee does not have the power to punish an attorney. the court of appeal does. it doesnt seem (based on the article) that they have made their decision yet (i am not in barbados i can only read the article for info)

    ****************

    BFP comments,

    It is very simple, anonlegal. The Disciplinary Committee imposed a reprimand as a suitable penalty for a lawyer’s theft of $150,000 from a client. The fact that others and the court may or may not agree or disagree comes only after the fact that the Disciplinary Committee believes that only a reprimand is a proper penalty for a lawyer stealing $150,000 from a client.

    The actions of the Disciplinary Committee are reprehensible.

  12. anonlegal

    ok BFP………My only point is that The disciplinary committee can not “impose” anything. The Legal Profession Act does not give them the power. It is the Court of Appeal that will decide this attorney’s fate. So as it stands now the disciplinary process is not complete.

    I get it, you believe that the committee should have recommended a stiffer penalty. I wasnt there to hear both sides so I reserve judgement. But at the end of the day the attorney may still be disbarred or suspended. So isnt a little early to be crying foul?

    *******************

    BFP says,

    It is not too early to be crying foul! $150k theft and somebody thinks a reprimand will do. It says everything about the legal profession on this rock.

  13. Rene

    The legal frame work in this country needs to be updated but as with anything this will take time.

  14. Jukecheckedeyskirt

    The whole system is corrupt and twisted. SOmetimes I wonder if white people was running this country if we would be in a better position.

  15. anonlegal

    “The whole system is corrupt and twisted. SOmetimes I wonder if white people was running this country if we would be in a better position.”

    ——————————————-

    what a statement……Just out of curiosity, what issues do you have with the system itself? It easy enough to cry corruption but what exactly has brought you to this conclusion? (I hope you haven’t come to this conclusion based on BFP’s accusations).