The US Department of State said it found the lack of meaningful progress made on several high profile corruption cases in The Bahamas in 2020 concerning.
“The government continues to make fighting corruption a major focus,” according to the department’s March 2021 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).
“However, several high-profile corruption cases failed to make meaningful progress through the courts in 2020.
“Delays related to the global COVID-19 pandemic are understandable, but the lack of progress is nevertheless concerning.
“To date, there have been very few convictions for public corruption despite 80 percent of Bahamians saying they felt corruption in government was a major problem, according to a 2019 survey by a non-governmental organization.”
The report was referring to a Transparency International survey that found that 80 percent of Bahamians view corruption in government as a big problem, while 79 percent think government is directed by special interest groups.
The report, published last month, noted that the government does not encourage or facilitate the production or distribution of illicit drugs, nor is it involved in laundering the proceeds of the sale of drugs.
There are at least two high-profile corruption cases pending.
In 2019, former deputy director of Urban Renewal, Michelle Reckley, and four other people, were charged with defrauding the government of $1.2 million through the Urban Renewal Small Homes Repair Programme in Grand Bahama.
Former Cabinet minister Ken Dorsett also still has his court matter pending. Dorsett was arrested and charged in 2017 with bribery.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis campaigned on an anti-corruption platform in 2017.
Once elected, Minnis promised to curb financial waste in government and tackle corruption.
“Individuals should be treated equally before the law,” he said in a national address in 2017.
“If judicial or police officials do not have the requisite paperwork necessary to charge any citizen, regardless of standing in the country, that individual should not be charged until the appropriate time.
“If all people deserve to be treated equally before the law, I find it disturbing that some people believe that politicians in The Bahamas should be above the law and should not be held accountable for misfeasance or misdeeds while in office.
“Around the world, politicians are often charged for certain crimes and when found guilty they pay the penalty for such crimes. Political leaders next door in the United States of America regularly are charged and found guilty of certain crimes.
“Bahamian politicians are not so special that we should be exempt from the rule of law. This includes members of my party and my government.”