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Hitmen came for OCG member

OCG staff leaves scene shortly gunmen arrive

Thursday, September 06, 2012 | 2:00 AM    

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POLICE were yesterday treating as very serious reports that a hit was taken out on a staff member of the Office of the Contractor General by a government contractor.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmuir Hinds said investigations had been launched into the allegations, shortly after anxious OCG officials reported what they described as an attempt to murder the unnamed staff member.

The OCG official, who was investigating allegations of falsified documents in the re-registration process for government works contractors, escaped with his life because he had left the scene just before gunmen came for him.

"The contractor general contacted the police and the matter is being investigated [and] we dispatched investigators to record statements. I am not necessarily the person dealing with it, but every report that we get we treat it urgently," DCP Hinds told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The deputy police commissioner, however, said he was "not in a position to give any details until the investigators have reported back to say where they are".

In the meantime, the alleged incident has led to a call by Contractor General Greg Christie for a cessation to "reckless statements" about the Office of the Contractor General, which he says "are endangering the lives of hard-working members of staff".

In a statement issued to the media yesterday, Christie lamented the fact that his staff member reportedly came close to losing his life at the hands of a government contractor while carrying out his duties.

"It should now be crystal-clear to all concerned that these reckless statements about the OCG are endangering the lives of the hard-working members of the OCG's staff who are doing nothing more than the jobs that they have taken a solemn oath to do. These reckless statements must stop before someone's life is snuffed out," the contractor general said.

It was reported that the staff member was at a certain location when he was identified by the government contractor. It is further alleged that, unknown to the OCG staff member, the contractor immediately left the area and returned with gunmen with the intention of killing him. However, by the time the contractor and the gunmen returned, the staff-member had left the location.

The contractor general said the individual who alerted the OCG said "he wanted to warn the OCG staff member of the impending threat to his life".

While the identity of the staff member has been kept secret, Christie said he is "one of the primary OCG officials who have been assigned the responsibility of interviewing contractors whose applications for re-registration as Government works contractors have been withdrawn from the National Contracts Commission (NCC) Works Contractor Application process, because of fraudulent representations that the OCG has uncovered in the applications".

The contractor general disclosed that the OCG staff member, at whom the alleged execution attempt was directed, is also the same person against whom threats of violence were overheard being made during the inaugural meeting, on July 28, 2012, of the recently organised Jamaica Association of Consultants and Contractors (JAC).

Yesterday, JAC chairperson Percival LaTouche said he had no information on the latest incident. The JAC and the OCG had been at loggerheads over several issues in recent months.

The JAC, in a recent tiff, accused the OCG of delays in the NCC's Government contractor re-registration process, but after a meeting with the contractor general, recanted its claims and has since directed them to the NCC.

"It's the first I am hearing about it. I don't know what happened so I wouldn't be able to speak about it at all," LaTouche said yesterday when told about the alleged murder attempt.

And the OCG added yesterday that the office had been battling, since April 2009, to root out corruption from the NCC's Works Contractor Registration Process. It said some of the irregularities which it had identified in the NCC's prescribed process are indicative of the magnitude of fraud and corruption which had now permeated government contracting in Jamaica, such as forged contractor re-registration applications, supporting documentation and certifications; falsified information regarding the human, physical, financial and technical resources of contractors; falsified information about construction projects which contractors allege that they have executed; and irregular and forged voluntary declarations which falsely attest to the veracity of contractor application forms.

The OCG said it had also received allegations that government works contractor applicants were paying as much as $250,000 to young University of Technology and University of the West Indies engineering graduates, to have them falsely attest to the OCG that they are working with the contractor applicant.

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