Wheatley refutes claims by Integrity Commission

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Wheatley refutes claims by Integrity Commission

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Member of Parliament for St Catherine South Central Andrew Wheatley, says while he has not yet read the report, its claims of wrongdoing, dishonesty, and nepotism in his dealings with Petrojam in his former capacity as Minister of Science, Energy and Technology are false.

His statement follows a recent report prepared by the Integrity Commission regarding the Petrojam investigation.

Wheatley said the assertions being made by the commission are damaging, spurious and belligerent and should be retracted immediately.

Read Wheatley's full statement below:

“I welcome the report prepared by the Integrity Commission regarding the Petrojam investigation. Though I have not had a chance to read it, I have heard media reports in which parts of the report call into question my honesty, character and reputation. I categorically deny any wrongdoing or dishonesty, as well as refute the claims of nepotism.

My main intention in public life has always been to serve the people of Jamaica. I have maintained above board in my dealings at and with Petrojam and in my former capacity as Minister of Science, Energy and Technology.

Specifically, I would like to address two matters. Firstly, that of Ms Sophia Deer. During the interview mentioned in the Integrity Commissions' report, I was never asked about any familial or historic link to Ms Deer; I was only asked about her competencies, ability to serve and the capacity in which she served. I answered ALL questions posed to me in a truthful and forthright manner. I could NOT answer questions that I was not asked. I remained available to answer any subsequent questions that may have arisen. There was no impropriety on my part. Therefore, the director of investigation was correct in citing no instances of nepotism and/or improprieties in my actions.

Secondly, it is being circulated that I knew the members that were assigned to the board of Petrojam and alluded to some sort of collusion. I am unaware of any public board (appointed by a Minister of Government under any administration), without the vast majority of its members being known by the minister. Being in a position of trust, I appointed persons who had previously demonstrated the ability to serve, were qualified and of solid character and reputation. It must be noted that ALL public boards are subject to the approval of Cabinet.

The assertions being made by the Integrity Commission are damaging, spurious and belligerent. They are baseless and should be retracted immediately.

I am a committed Member of Parliament serving St Catherine South Central for a number of years. I have served as councillor of the Naggo Head Division and was mayor and deputy mayor of Spanish Town, as well as vice‐chairman of the St Catherine Parish Council. I was also vice-president of the Association of Local Government Authorities of Jamaica. I am an accomplished academic and a British Commonwealth Scholar, holding a Bachelor's degree in biochemistry and chemistry and a doctorate in basic medicine from The University of the West Indies and Imperial College of the University of London. I am a senior lecturer in basic medicine and a research scientist at The University of the West Indies, where my work has focused on diabetes management, reversal of the effects of cocaine addiction, genetic engineering against disease and stress conditions, pharmaceutical properties of indigenous materials and tissue culturing.

It is my intention to continue serving my constituents and also my country in whatever capacity I can and use this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to honesty, integrity and the rule of law and to repudiate the efforts of those who would seek to tarnish persons who serve with innuendos and half-truths.”

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