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Surprise parties for Wheatly, PetroJam chairman cost $2.6m — AGD

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Auditor General's Department (AGD) has revealed that within a three-month span, PetroJam financed two “surprise parties” totalling $2.6 million for then energy minister Dr Andrew Wheatley and former chairman of Petrojam Perceval Bahado-Singh.

According to a comprehensive audit of both Petrojam and its parent company, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) tabled in Parliament yesterday, payment for both “surprise parties” was approved by then General Manager Floyd Grindley.

It said a January 9, 2018 event, which was described in an email correspondence as a "surprise party" for Wheatley, cost taxpayers US$11,260.

It included a US$1000 "four-tiered 'Topsy Turvy Cake' Chocolate Cake"; US$2,427 for "food and beverage"; and US$3,802 for "1-6 bedroom, ocean view" at a hotel in Montego Bay, St James.

“The emails, which were circulated among the General Manager, Manager, HRDA, Head of Procurement and two representatives from the hotel, highlighted an attendee list of 15 individuals… Petrojam could not justify the basis for the expenditure,” the AGD said.

Payment for this event was approved on January 5 this year.

The other party, which was held on September 19 last year, also at a hotel in Montego Bay, was described as a “surprise birthday party" for the board chairman.

That party came with a US$10,507 price tag, which the report said, was approved by the general manager on November 17 last year.

According to the AGD, the hotel submitted the invoice, which detailed charges for 25 guests, to the head of procurement at Petrojam who then forwarded it to the general manager on October 3, 2017.

“On the same day, the general manager forwarded the hotel's invoice to his administrative assistant. The email stated, 'please prepare PR (Procurement Request) and BEACS (Bid Evaluation Approval Control Sheet) for me. I will sign when I get back. It was for a pre-strategic meeting in MoBay last week.' However, the particulars of the Hotel's invoice did not support this claim,” said the AGD.

The audit report also noted that there was a reimbursement of $225,748 made to the general manager, which included $20,970 for the cost of a cake purchased for the surprise birthday party.

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