More than a month after the post became vacant, President Anthony Carmona has appointed certified anti-money-laundering specialist attorney David West as director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).In a statement yesterday, the President's information officer Theron Boodan said West would be sworn in at the Office of the President, Circular Road, St Ann's, at 11 am today.
West has previously been a state prosecutor in the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, director designate of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) at the Finance Ministry and head of the Central Authority Unit (CAU) at the Ministry of the Attorney General.
He has been at loggerheads with the Government on several issues, including the Section 34 issue, and has publicly criticised the Government's delays in complying with recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2013.At the time West said if T&T did not prosecute anyone involved in white-collar crimes the country could be blacklisted and placed on the list of non co-operative territories.West served as a member of the Cabinet appointed-committee on AML in 2010.In an interview before the announcement, Boodan said the name of the new chairman of the Integrity Commission would be divulged soon.He said interviews had taken place over the past few weeks to find suitable candidates for vacant posts.
Police Service Commission chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran resigned on September 1 after serving for three years and four months. A day later, Police Complaints Authority head Gillian Lucky also resigned to serve as a High Court judge.Former Integrity Commission chairman Kenneth Gordon left office on October 31 after serving his three-year term.
Saying there was no need to hire a recruitment agency or advertise, Boodan said: "We have a potential chairman for the Integrity Commission. Someone has already been interviewed."
He agreed there were difficulties in getting candidates as concerns were raised about the personal attacks often made on those appointed to serve on state commissions.
Boodan said background checks must be done on candidates to determine their level of qualification, political affiliation and political ambitions, as well as their field of expertise.
In the case of the Integrity Commission, Boodan said the chairman by law must have a certified background in sociology.
"It takes time to find a suitable candidate. Sometimes you find somebody and you have to check out the person to see whether they are suited for the position.
"Each position requires certain qualifications and expertise. When you find someone you have to write the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader and then wait for their response," he explained.
Asked whether having to declare their assets under the Integrity in Public Life Act deterred potential candidates, Boodan said in some cases candidates might be reluctant to declare their assets.
He added: "The majority of them, however, were talking about being embarrassed in public without redress. They are humiliated for serving their country."
He said the declaration of assets was an issue that should be taken up by the executive arm of government.
Boodan also said he did not see how delays in making presidential appointments were affecting issues of crime and corruption.
"Operations are going on and issues are being dealt with. There are vacancies and we are working to fill those but we just cannot pull some names out of a hat and make appointments because if the candidates fail, the Office of the President will be held responsible," Boodan said.
Secretary of the Police Social and Welfare Association Sgt Michael Seales was in a meeting yesterday and was not available for comment.
On Tuesday he said the operational accountability of the police was hindered by the absence of heads of the PCA and the PSC.
New PCA head's CV
West has over ten years' experience in dealing with extradition and mutual legal assistance and assisted in drafting several laws, including the Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2009, Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2010 and the Financial Obligations Regulations 2009.
He was junior counsel to Andrew Mitchell, QC, who prosecuted the first money laundering case in T&T.
West was responsible for drafting the amendment to the Extradition Act 1985 and is recognised internationally for his success in extraditing a number of suspects, the most notable being the "JFK terrorist bombers" and seven people involved in the kidnapping and murder of US citizen "Balo" Maharaj.
West was also involved in the extradition of Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh up until August 2010.
He has a BSc in economics and law, an LLB (Hons) and is a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS) at El Dorado Chambers.
CAMS certification is recognised worldwide by financial institutions and government agencies as an indication of anti-money laundering (AML) expertise.
West studied at Brunel University and is a past student of Naparima College.
How the PCA head is chosen
Under the Police Complaints Authority Act, the director and deputy director are appointed by the President on the joint advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
If they cannot agree on the joint advice, the President appoints the director and the deputy director after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.