Writing in his weekly column on MiyVue.com, Dwyer Astaphan stated that while he is generally supportive of the legislation and its intent, he believes that the Bill should also make provisions to include illegal acts committed by government officials who are found to be engaged in the abuse of power, corruption, nepotism, tax evasion, protectionism, abuse of public office, abuse of public trust, misuse of government funds and other resources and kickbacks.
To illustrate his point, Astaphan asked the question:“Who is the greater threat to the peace, order and good government of a society and economy, and to democracy: a corrupt, unscrupulous street person, or a corrupt, unscrupulous occupant of high office?”
He continued: “Who is the bigger gangster, the street gangster from Basseterre, Cayon, Old Road or St. Pauls, or the ‘executive’ gangster?
Astaphan is arguing the point that white collar crimes such as fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, money laundering, cyber crime, identity theft, forgery, and others, should be covered by the Bill.
He asked: “Can’t these crimes be “gang-related activities” too? And if so, why are they to be treated less harshly by the law?”
Astaphan continued his questioning, “Also, what about persons, formed into a gang, who collaborate to compromise and corrupt the electoral processes and to rob people of their sacred right to vote? Are they too not gangsters, and far more dangerous gangsters than the ones who are being targeted by this Act?
Astaphan said that there are many international organizations that are involved in crime fighting that would support his argument that “white collar” criminals are just as dangerous, if not worse, than those law breakers from poor communities.
The former head of National Security therefore holds the view that the Bill should also protect the citizens of St. Kitts & Nevis from “white collar gangsters, electoral gangsters, and executive gangster”.
The proposed legislation defines a gang as two or more persons and a gang leader as someone who, with knowledge, initiates, organizes, plans, finances, directs, manages or supervises any gang-related activity.
This description of “gang leader” perfectly fits the leaders of these ‘electoral’ and ‘executive’ gangs. And from an evidentiary perspective, with all things being equal, a case against such gang leaders might be less difficult to prove, said Astaphan in his article.