Are we going down the wrong road in our fight against corruption?



Stephon Grey, Specialist in Forensic and Fraud Auditing, at a Procurement Forum held by APEX (Anointed Professionals Exhibiting Excellence) of the Divine Destiny Worship Centre Church in Diego Martin Trinidad suggested a critical role for the Inland Revenue in stamping out corruption.  He noted that Al Capone who was an American gangster was not caught on racketeering offences but on tax issues. 

An article entitled “Why was tax evasion the only thing pinned on Al Capone?” by Howstuff Works shed some light on the situation. Let us look a little at the article on Capone and see if there are any  lessons that we can learn and parallels in the Caribbean. 

The article noted that:

    Capone was careful; the Treasury Department described him as possessing a "natural Italian secretiveness" [source: IRS]. He managed to create plausible deniability, removing himself enough from the violence and illegality so that no connections could be drawn between him and the crimes he authorized.

There's no telling how many people died by his hand or his command. But when it came down to it, the federal prosecutors who worked for years to build a case against Scarface could only pin charges of tax evasion on the gangster.

Capone was equally careful about keeping his illegal earnings hidden. He endorsed only one check in his lifetime, and he never had a bank account in his own name. With the exception of that one check (for proceeds from a gambling racket), Capone dealt exclusively in cash.

He was further protected by the fact that witnesses were unwilling to testify against him. There were, of course, more than enough people with knowledge of Capone's direct involvement in crime. But those close to him were loyal to Capone or feared death. And the residents, police and local prosecutors in Chicago felt the same way.

Capone was liberal with both bribes and threats.


Does the above suggest parallels in Trinidad and Tobago? 

How success came?

    The FBI worked in conjunction with the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service to dig up dirt on the gangster. Eventually, they found enough to convict him. The check he endorsed, along with testimony from the very few witnesses the feds could persuade to testify, provided enough evidence to put Capone away.

   He was ultimately found guilty of evasion for not paying taxes on his ill-gotten wealth.


The article of the success that came begs the following questions:

Should we concentrate on tax reform,whistle blowing legislation and strengthening     the systems for protection of witnesses?

Should we review and improve systems in place in the Inland Revenue department to deal with illegal earnings?

Should we put in place a mechanism for joint work among the relevant agencies to deal with the issue of illegal earnings?

Should we look at available legislation and determine changes needed so that we can more effectively address the issue of ill-gotten wealth.

Corruption depletes national wealth, increases costs of goods and services, funnels scarce public resources to uneconomic high profile projects, leads to unhealthy competition and inflation and adversely affects the work ethic and market structures.  We have to positively address it for the good of the nation.  See Related Post- Strategies to reduce the level of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago