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Daryl Vaz: I did no wrong

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

FORMER Cabinet minister Daryl Vaz yesterday insisted that he had not breached the Corruption Prevention Act when he enquired into a traffic violation charge slapped on a close friend, and vowed to fight any charge levelled at him by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

Vaz; his friend, who is a prominent businessman; and a senior superintendent of police are expected to be in court today where they are likely to be charged with perverting the course of justice.

"Arising from an investigation into the traffic violation involving my close personal friend, the DPP's Office has ruled that I be charged... my enquiries into this matter concerning my close friend were made out of concern and done openly and with no ill intent," the West Portland MP said in a statement.

Vaz was reacting to news yesterday of the ruling by the ODPP that all three men be charged in relation to a traffic offence for which the businessman was ticketed.

A Jamaica Observer source close to the case said that the businessman was cited by a police sergeant for speeding on the Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard in Kingston on April 9.

The businessman was apparently taking family members to the Norman Manley International Airport.

When he was asked for the motor vehicle documents, the businessman handed them to the sergeant who, on examining them, found two $1,000 notes among the papers.

The sergeant, the Observer learnt, believed that the money was an attempt to bribe him and notified his colleague sergeant who was a member of his team.

The businessman was subsequently accused of trying to bribe a police officer and was taken to a police station where he was arrested, then offered station bail.

During that time, the police sergeant who had pulled over the businessman said he received phone calls from a number of persons, including Vaz, enquiring about the arrest.

The sergeant, our source revealed, also said that a number of senior police officers went to the police station to assist the businessman.

A few days later, the sergeant said he sought the advice of a former police commissioner who asked him if he was sure that the businessman was actually trying to bribe him or whether the money was among the documents by accident.

The sergeant told the former police chief that he was not sure, upon which the ex-commissioner advised him to approach a serving police officer whom he (the sergeant) was confident could resolve the issue.

That serving police officer turned out to be the senior superintendent who, after being approached by the sergeant, sought to assist by getting the businessman to change his initial decision to take legal action against the police.

The businessman, our source said, also explained in a written statement that the $1,000 notes were inadvertently left among the vehicle documents and were not intended to bribe the cop.

The businessman also apologised to the police for what he described as a misunderstanding.

Yesterday, Vaz said he had been formally advised that he would be charged under Section 14 (2) of the Corruption Prevention Act which states: "A person commits an act of corruption if he offers or grants, directly or indirectly, to a public servant any article, money or other benefit, being a gift, favour, promise of advantage to the public servant or another person, for doing any act or omitting to do any act in the performance of the public servant's public function."

Said Vaz: "I categorically deny doing any of the above and will be vigorously contesting this charge through my attorney, Mr George Soutar QC. My involvement in this matter is of a personal nature, and as such I would never compromise myself or any public officer.

"If I have to live my life all over again, the only thing I would do is change my first name, but I would maintain the same personality and values that I stand for," he added.

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