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Bunting mum on PNP members implicated in lotto scam

'Task force has a free hand to operate'

BY CANDIESE LEVERIDGE Online reporter leveridgec@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 3:31 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — MINISTER of Security Peter Bunting, this morning, declined to comment on the possibility of a political fallout stemming from a raid on the homes of two People's National Party (PNP) councillors by the Lotto Scam Task Force.

Addressing journalists this morning at the Jamaica House press briefing, Bunting said that would he would comment only in the capacity of security minister.

"I know there may be questions to do with an operation by the anti-scamming task force in St James this morning but I will just say that we are not going to use this occasion to respond to any questions from a political perspective," said the security minister.

"I think the only relevant statement I could make on that here is that the security forces know that no one in this society, regardless of their position or political affiliation, will get any political protection from this administration…and they have a free hand to conduct their investigations and operations and go wherever," he added.

Bunting praised the anti-scamming task force, which started earlier this year, for achieving 'phenomenal success' but added that lottery scamming could still cause severe damage to the country's reputation.

"It [lotto scam] has done tremendous damage to our reputation internationally, it has the potential to impact our tourism product, our investments particularly in the ICT sector and therefore although the players involved may not individually arise to the level of kingpins, but collectively we’re seeing the lotto scamming as a threat to Jamaica," Bunting commented.

At the same time Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said that it would be inappropriate to state how long the PNP councillors arrested this morning were on the radar of the task force.

“It has always been in the force’s intention to focus on the key players in the lottery scamming business,” said the Police Commissioner. 

The task force, this morning, raided the premises of two PNP councillors in St James, including the deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Michael Troupe.

During an operation at Granville in the parish, at the home of Troupe, councillor for the Granville division, the security forces reportedly seized about US$10,000 and close to $400,000, as well as an illegal firearm.

A simultaneous raid was also conducted at a premises in Cornwall Courts owned by Silvan Reid, councillor for the Salt Spring division.

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