The Integrity Commission yesterday issued a statement warning people who fall under its purview that, upon entry into public life, their assests should be placed in a blind trust and a copy of the trust deed must be filed with the Commission.
"Where there is a reasonable likelihood that the dealing with private assets currently held or in the process of being acquired by persons in public life would create a conflict of interest or lead to a breach of the Act, such persons should avoid that possibility becoming a reality and arrange to have the property or asset of such part therof placed into a blind trust upon such terms and conditions as would effectively separate themselves from the management of the asset and maintain public confidence and trust in their integrity," the statement said.
On August 25, the Sunday Express reported that National Security Minister Jack Warner was considering acquiring a stake in two media houses owned by Chokoolingo Holdings—Mirror newspapers and Newsday.
On the acquisition, Warner said: "For the time being the interest is purely commercial. But if it becomes political, that would have to be a subsequent matter. I don't rule it out."
"I see no conflict. I have not discussed this with anyone, includi ng any political individual," he added.
The proposed purchase was widely condemmed by the Media Association, Fixin T&T, Congress of the People and Movement for Social Justice.
"The Commission can call upon the trust company to provide full answers to any enquiries of the Commission relating to the nature and management of the asset.
The Commissison will exercise this power if it appears that a breach of the Act or a conflict of interest may have arisen in relation to a currently held asset of a person in public life," it said.
The Commission noted that people in public life must arrange their private interests, whether pecuniary or otherwise, in such a manner as to maintain public confidence and trust in their integrity.
"Further, persons in public life must be minded to ensure that any transaction they engage in or any commercial or other interest acquired is not incompatible with their office, function or the discharge of their duty," it added.