By: Melanius Alphonse
The dramatic state of events in Trinidad and Tobago is now a part of a world that is more connected and aware of the ease, access and influence associated with the resulting proliferation of Jack Warner’s indictment by US authorities.
Meanwhile, many are probably in reflection is there more to come and the inevitable outcome.
Expectations may have come close to turning a blind eye on inequality and persistent poverty, fuelling corrupt practices. Variable economic policy has allowed people to get rich through seemingly dubious ways, then via trickledown economics, expect others will be provided for. These millionaires in turn view their success in turning famous, are then able to attain the finer things life has to offer.
In the past, how that wealth was acquired was secondary unless and until it aggrieved or became contrary to some specific action.
Times have changed and information technology is connecting people and countries in real time with economic policy, banking rules and transactions, international law, conventions and treaties, signed by administrations that carry binding liability.
Oftentimes these obligations are upheld by external powers, considering that some regions have deficient legislation and in instances where they exist as paper tigers, such as, for example, the Integrity Commission Act, poor governance is more prone to turning the other cheek, where suspicion that a full and honest declaration has not been made on how officials acquired their wealth.
At the same time, governments claim to be eager to elevate the poor to an equal playing field, oftentimes unsuccessfully, thus leaving the poor frustrated. With the exception of election time, when the forgotten and underprivileged seem most valuable, and, recognizing that, utilize the opportunity to break open the affluence of their fellow countrymen.
Across the board corruption is widely regarded as detrimental, direct and indirect, the origin of almost the entire spectrum of harm done to alleviate poverty, improve human resources, infrastructure and housing development, from which Haiti has not recovered, and probably won’t in the absence of good governance.
These fears, among others, are perhaps most explanatory in the context of Jack Warner’s indictment, further recognizing Haiti’s predicament. But more profound to answer, lies the question of what type of service was provided for the “circus” financial transactions through US financial institutions and what could possibly represent journal entries that validate financial statements.
Moreover, who were the benefactors and beneficiaries of the largesse and possible undeclared assets and, in turn, which banking and tax violations were allegedly contravened; and how international laws were allegedly breached on a personal and corporate level.
Perhaps these could produce a transition for players pursuing business interest in the region’s marketplace.
Taking it further, the reality of this comes with the interpretation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-1, et seq.), which is a United States federal law known primarily for two of its main provisions; one that addresses accounting transparency requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and another concerning bribery of foreign officials.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) became law in March 2010. Targeting tax non-compliance by US taxpayers with foreign accounts; focusing on reporting to the US about certain foreign accounts and offshore assets by foreign financial institutions held by US taxpayers or foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest, the objective of which is reporting of foreign financial assets.
There’s much more in the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
In effect, these draw attention to the scope, responsibility and accountability issues, not only to US citizens and business entities, but also member states that are signatories.
There is also a sharp contrast to changes across banking platforms, mergers, acquisitions and other financial institution settlements with Department of Justice (DOJ). Actually, press releases on such matters seem a weekly occurrence, amounting to billions of dollars into the US Treasury.
These observations bring forth obligations to the far-reaching makeover of monetary, economic policy, regulations, laws and procedures governing signatories to conventions and treaties in the process of globalization. Resource allocations available to monitor these undertakings across various territories are likewise sophisticated.
The bigger picture here is that, apart from these obligations, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) authorities have enormous jurisdiction in other sovereign countries legally to challenge and seek explanations on transactions and asset acquisitions, through a variety of due processes where those transactions are processed through US banks, under the obligation of signed conventions.
Warner’s debacle not only brings to light the main target in FIFA’s dragnet of alleged corruption and money laundering, but consequently opens the door to other findings of the same sort in the wider region that could potentially expose uncontrolled largesse, assets, and corrupt activities, the purchase of electoral power and government sponsored enterprise for party elites.
Then again, these distortions can be seen in a number of ways, and thus explains the necessity to establish strong regulatory frameworks and good governance which, on its own, will not guarantee transparency and eliminate corruption, but certainly it tends to bring daylight in due course to issues and facilitate a more equitable society.
While Warner’s indictment has become a spectacle, others in the region could be shivering in silence, reflecting and retracing many transactions and contemplating guidance.
In Saint Lucia, IMPACS and Lambirds Academy represent many unanswered questions. There are also other government and non government inconclusive transactions, asset acquisitions and many unexplained millionaires, perhaps extremely vulnerable to the long reach of US law enforcement: FBI, IRS and DOJ.
The present climate of citizenship by investment seems a popular trend in the region designed to fill up governments consolidated funds. As structured, this trap is perhaps self inflicted on administrations and officials’ inability to escape scrutiny, through the established procedure of conventions, to validate asset acquisition and sudden extravagant wealth.
Thus given new life to argue, yea or nay, that politicians and government cannot be trusted on the issues and therefore misrepresent the facts in the art form of politics, widely considered one of the most lucrative investments.
In transition, solutions includes a concrete shift in priorities and economic opportunities that narrow the gap of those on the low end of the economic chain and expose corruption or malfeasance, making exploitative practices less attractive.
Technology systems are well advanced at generating solutions, disrupting corrupt activities and behaviour and placing the situation in context that eventually extracts the issues to arrive at a resolution.
The express concern is the need for strong, trustworthy and good governance, operating in confidence with the support of reliable infrastructure, without which all policies, plans, or solutions are redundant.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org ;