The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago (AmCham TT) is supporting the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) call for the removal of responsibility for the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) from the office of the Attorney General to the T&T Police Service (TTPS).
In a statement issued yesterday, AmCham TT said the proper functioning of the ACIB is critical in combating the scourge of white-collar crime and ensuring that T&T is a jurisdiction in which the rule of law prevails. It noted that to achieve this, corruption among public officials and politically-connected rogue elements of the private sector must be rooted out.
“We believe that having the ACIB under a political office does not lend to best practices in the thorough investigation and prosecution of corrupt persons. Regardless of the administration, this situation may allow for political interference and compromise of sensitive investigations.
“We, therefore, call on the authorities to review the current policies and procedures related to the ACIB and take the necessary actions to physically and operationally integrate the Bureau into the TTPS,” the organisation urged.
It added that AmCham TT remains unapologetic in its stance against white-collar crime, as it believes that its economic and societal impacts can be far costlier than may be perceived.
It said this is evident by T&T’s “less than admirable ranking” on the recent Corruption Perception Index, where the report cites “issues such as bribery, government’s inability to treat with corruption and the unwillingness to report on corruption by citizens” as some of the reasons why the country continues to see no improvement in this ranking.
Additionally, T&T’s inclusion in the 2017 Global Business Rule of Law and Business Dashboard report showed that this country ranked 43rd out of 72 countries across the world. This report measures categories relating to procurement, business regulations and licenses and judicial impartiality, among many others.
AmCham TT’s president Patricia Ghany said, “T&T’s performance in both rankings can be used as tools to measure the country’s attractiveness for investment. AmCham T&T is concerned that when we do not take the necessary steps to improve, Trinidad and Tobago may be seen as a less attractive place to do business.”
Ghany added that in a time when neighbouring countries are taking huge steps to improve their attractiveness to investors and creating a more facilitative business environment, T&T should ensure that it is doing the same.
“Taking decisive action towards moving the ACIB will show that Trinidad & Tobago is serious about tackling corruption in all aspects of society, thereby inspiring greater confidence that T&T is open for business and that the Government, regardless of party in power, will act fairly and impartially,” Ghany urged.