Criminal charges loom

Education ministry probe underway

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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Criminal charges could be looming over some of the major players in the latest corruption allegation that has rocked the Andrew Holness Administration.

Police sources yesterday confirmed that at least one person has already been questioned, while another has indicated that she has retained the service of a lawyer and would be willing to answer questions in short order.

The Caribbean Maritime University, HEART Trust/NTA, a consultant contracted to raise grant funds for Jamaica from overseas entities, a former Member of Parliament, a close protection officer, and a domestic worker were all the subject of speculation yesterday as Jamaicans tried to come to grips with the firing of Ruel Reid as Minister of Education, Youth and Information.

In a terse mid-morning release, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) made it clear that Reid's resignation was requested by his boss, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, but gave no indication of the allegations which had been levelled against him.

Holness provided no further clarity on the allegations during a brief address in the House of Representatives late yesterday.

But the prime minister told the House that it is important for the country to be assured that the Government sets a standard of accountability that cannot be questioned.

He said after a conversation with Reid on Tuesday, it became clear that he should resign while the State agencies conduct their investigations.

Director of Communications at OPM Robert Morgan would also not be drawn on the information available to the usually cautious Holness to cause him to demand the resignation of a minister he had hand-picked from the education sector, first as an advisor and later as a Cabinet minister.

“The prime minister has articulated and demonstrated his commitment to the issue of transparency and good governance, so it would follow that if there is ever a circumstance where the prime minister is of the view that the issue rises to the point where it requires his intervention... then he will act,” Morgan said.

“No one asked for the resignation of Minister Reid, but the Government, led by the prime minister, is committed to the whole idea that when it comes to governance there should not even be the perception of impropriety and as such he acted in that regard,” said Morgan.

He argued that the OPM could not provide details on the allegations at this time as investigations are underway.

“We will not hide from these investigations. The Government will act in a transparent manner and we will try to make as much information that we have available to us available to the public as we do not believe that if we are interested in the issue of ensuring good governance of public resources, that there is any other option but ensuring that... the chips fall where they may,” added Morgan.

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