Trafigura haunts PNP

Contractor general recommends Colin Campbell be charged for obstruction in probe

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

THE ghost of the 2006 Trafigura scandal yesterday returned to haunt the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) and, in particular, Colin Campbell as the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has recommended that he be charged for obstructing and hindering its probe of the affair.

Contractor General Greg Christie said that there was enough evidence recorded in his 111-page report of his investigation into the oil lifting contracts between the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer which established that Campbell “committed a criminal offence or offences under Section 29 (b) of the Contractor General Act”.

According to Christie, former information minister Campbell failed, without lawful justification or excuse, to comply with a lawful requirement of the contractor general and thereby obstructed the probe by withholding critical information.

Said Christie: “The repeated failure and/or refusal of Mr Colin Campbell to provide detailed and particularised answers to those of the OCG’s written requisitions and questions which were lawfully directed to him, and/or to otherwise fully co-operate with the OCG’s investigation into the specific allegations which are associated with the subject payment of $31 million to the CCOC Association, has virtually stumped the OCG’s investigative attempts and efforts in this matter.

“Consequently, the OCG is recommending that the appropriate legal action, as deemed fit by the DPP, be pursued against Mr Colin Campbell.”

Trafigura came to the attention of Jamaicans in 2006 when the then Opposition Jamaica Labour Party revealed that the firm, which traded oil for Jamaica on the international market, had donated $31 million to an account operated by Campbell, who at the time was also the PNP’s general secretary.

The money was transferred to the account just prior to the PNP’s annual conference that year.

Trafigura Beheer said the money was part of a commercial agreement, while the PNP maintained that it was a donation to the party.

“They made the offer. They said that they know elections are imminent in Jamaica and they are intending to make a contribution,” Campbell told journalists at a news conference in October 2006 at the PNP headquarters.

Campbell had also told journalists that CCOC stood for “nothing in particular” and that the account was simply one the party used to deposit campaign finances.

However, the Observer subsequently found out that CCOC meant ‘Colin Campbell Our Candidate’ and was an association formed by a group of his supporters.

The ensuing scandal from the transaction damaged the PNP, and Campbell resigned as PNP general secretary and from the Cabinet. A few days later, PNP president and then prime minister Portia Simpson Miller ordered the money sent back.

Just over a year later, in November 2007, Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament that the Dutch police believed Trafigura Beheer had bribed Jamaican public officials in 2006.

On November 20, 2007, the Parliament passed a resolution giving the Dutch investigators permission to probe the donation to the PNP.

Christie, in his report, made reference to the attempt by the Dutch police to probe the scandal, saying that the OCG was contacted by the Dutch authorities in October 2006 seeking assistance in carrying out its own investigation.

However, he said he denied the Dutch police’s request, in keeping with Section 28 of the Contractor General Act, and after an exchange of e-mails between his office and the Dutch police, in which he also sought their assistance, he did not receive the requested information.

Christie said that the failure of the Dutch police and Campbell to provide him with the information he needed resulted in him being unable to ascertain the reasons for the payments and whether they had any bearing on the oil lifting contracts.

At the same time, Christie said he found no evidence to indicate that the oil lifting contracts had Cabinet approval, neither were they endorsed by the National Contracts Commission.

“The OCG also found that the PCJ did not have a Procurement Committee in place prior to 2006, which is… another breach of the GOJ Procurement rules,” Christie added.

The contractor general also recommended that, in light of the Trafigura controversy, stringent and appropriate election campaign financing laws be enacted to force the disclosure of the identity of campaign donors and financiers.




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