A plethora of letters of complaint have been written to several public authorities about the chairman of the Integrity Commission, Rajendra Ramlogan, particularly his manner of dealing with staff.
Among the authorities which have received letters of complaint are President Paula-Mae Weekes, the Director of Personnel Administration, the Head of the Public Service, the Equal Opportunity Commission, Public Service Commission and the Public Services Association.
This was confirmed by former Head of Investigations at the Integrity Commission, Richard Frederick, a former Assistant Commissioner of Police who has held the senior position at the IC since 2011.
“Files containing statements from staff members detailing the complaints about the abusive behaviour of the official have gone to all these agencies,” Frederick said.
“I have worked with the Integrity Commission since March 2011 and I have worked with four previous chairmen—Dr (Eric) St Cyr, Ken Gordon, retired Justice Zainool Hosein, retired Justice Melville Baird—and this is the first time that we have had this kind of toxic environment,” he said.
“People are afraid to talk because if you are a contract employee and you say anything off, you are out on the road,” Frederick said.
Frederick said the chairman told him that he was appointed by the President for his management skills and he was told by her (Her Excellency) to “go and clean up the mess at the Integrity Commission”. Other members of staff confirmed Ramlogan said this to the staff when he first assumed office in January and repeated the statements since then.
The Express received confirmation from sources within the Equal Opportunity Commission that a case has been lodged with the Commission and that the Chairman of the Integrity Commission has been written regarding the complaint received from Leranda Charles, an Acting Clerk/Stenographer 11, who was performing duties as Executive Secretary at the Commission.
Charles has indicated that despite competently performing her duties, complying with all instructions, meeting all her deadlines, Ramlogan would “often speak harshly to her and chastise her for situations beyond her control, even in the presence of other staff members”.
Charles was initially reassigned by the Registrar to another desk. However she was relieved of her appointment with the Integrity Commission and is currently at the Public Service Commission, which now has to find a place for her. Charles alleged that she was being treated unfairly. The EOC in its review said the purpose of its investigation is “ to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to indicate that discrimination contrary to the Equal Opportunities Act has occurred”.
Exodus at the Commission
There has been an exodus from the Integrity Commission with about ten employees having left this year. The Commission has about 25 workers, a majority of contract officers, who have been with the Commission for varying periods, but, most recently by virtue of short term contracts.
Frederick also indicated that the Business Operations Assistant 11 (Arielle Simmons) assigned to the Investigation Unit had resigned, saying that the chairman created an environment of discord among staff, leaving them the options of siding with him for fear of termination or isolation or leaving the job.
Frederick claimed said the short-term contract arrangement, a system which the chairman met in place, was being used in order to frustrate, threaten and bully people into leaving their jobs.
Frederick said the Registrar, Jasmine Pascal, has taken vacation and the acting Registrar, Aisha George, has applied to the PSC to be transferred.
Ramlogan has reported the Registrar on charges to the Public Service Commission for an alleged failure to comply with his instructions.
Chairman concerned about PM’s criticisms of Commission
Frederick, who was on medical leave between January and April, said when he returned to the office on April 6, Ramlogan introduced himself to him and immediately told him that he would be replacing him as Head of the Investigations Section. His replacement, Nichelle Mitchell, assumed the position at the beginning of this month). After Ramlogan told Frederick he would be replaced, Frederick subsequently received a letter dated June 28 signed by all the members of the Commission, on the issue of the renewal of his contract. The letter stated that the commissioners had a number of concerns, in the context of a performance appraisal.
The letter referred to criticisms made by Dr Keith Rowley in 2015 and 2016, Dr Terrence Farrell in 2020 and Gerry Brooks in 2020 about the Commission. Specifically a statement made by Keith Rowley, then opposition leader in 2015 which was critical of the IC’s decision not to investigate the Beetham Wastewater contract, a statement by Rowley in 2016 that he was had no confidence in the Integrity Commission, a statement by Farrell who was “scathing about the ineffectiveness of the Integrity in Public Life Act, describing it as a ‘bad piece of legislation’ and a statement by Brooks who noted that despite considerable resources being spent on various institutions, including the Integrity Commission, corruption was continuing.
The letter said: “You (Frederick), as the Director of Investigations, have been at the helm of the investigative aspects of the Commission’s operations during a period when the Commission has been subject to heavy criticism”.
The letter pointed to other “shortcomings” in the management of complaints under Frederick’s stewardship, noting that there were 15 outstanding investigations, with some going back to 2013. It also cited an alleged “underlying cynicism” among investigators who the letter said tended to focus on the shortcomings of the Integrity in Public Life Act, rather than working with what powers the Act gave them. It said this was reflected in a statement Frederick made to the Chairman to the effect that the real problem lay “in the direction of Parliament (in the legislation) and that he further stated, “no one gives a dog teeth to bite them”.
The letter also complained about the inability of the chairman to contact Frederick by phone.
Frederick told the Express that the letter was the first time he had heard any expressions of concern about his performance. In the context of the letter and the comments of the chairman when he first met him in April that he would be replacing him, Frederick eventually resigned on September 14, when his last contract expired.
Frederick said that at a meeting with the investigators Ramlogan had instructed them that whenever they are submitting files on an investigation that is complete, they must attach an executive summary because one member of the Commission indicated that he/she did not have time to read files as they were occupied with their private practice. Frederick said that despite a number of investigative matters being completed by the Investigations Department, the Commission has not dealt with one investigation for the year.