Labour representative in the Senate, Ray Roberts has expressed concern that the recently-formed Keith Mitchell Foundation could violate Section 12(e) of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
The formation of the foundation was announced recently by leading local hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkin at a press conference.
Sir Royston, who is also Chairman of the Keith Mitchell Foundation Inc., said proceeds of the sale of a book, published by Dr. Mitchell, were to be managed by a purpose-built foundation.
He also stated that donations to the foundation were invited and would be welcomed.
Responding to these developments, Sen. Roberts noted that the creation of the foundation in the name of Dr. Mitchell, who is the current Prime Minister, presented conflict of interest and ethical issues.
According to Sen. Roberts, it runs the risk of donors to the foundation having undue influence on the Prime Minister resulting in decisions that are not in the best interest of the country.
He also alluded to the possibility that the Prime Minister could exploit his official role to benefit his foundation by influencing persons to make donations.
He felt that the potential risk for conflict of interest in the circumstances and the impact on the public perception of decisions made by the Prime Minister cannot be underestimated.
Sen. Roberts believes that failure to address this issue now could damage Dr. Mitchell’s reputation and undermine confidence in the government.
He added that decisions made by PM Mitchell could also be subjected to investigation under the provisions of Section 12 (e) of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
Sen. Roberts announced that the issue of the foundation by the sitting Prime Minister was brought to the attention of the Integrity Commission so that it may consider making appropriate inquiries as provided for in the Act.
He said he anticipates a response from the commission on its findings.