Criminal charges looming over former Petrojam managers

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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The Integrity Commission has completed its probe into the operations of Petrojam, and indications are that criminal charges could soon be laid against some of the main players.

In its 2018/2019 Annual Report tabled in the Senate last Friday, the commission notes that, “The investigative process and report dealing with matters concerning Petrojam Limited has been completed and is being forwarded to the director of corruption prosecution, pursuant to Section 54 of the Integrity Commission Act”.

In keeping with the legislation governing its operations, the commission gave no indication of its findings, but the fact that it has been sent to the director of corruption prosecution is a clear indication that criminal charges may be pending.

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis, who is also a commissioner on the Integrity Commission, last year tabled a report of her office's investigation into the State-run oil refinery, which uncovered several questionable management practices that cost the entity hundreds of millions of dollars.

The probe revealed that millions were spent on lavish parties and unapproved sponsorships, while glaring human resource breaches occurred which caused Petrojam to end up in court as sacked employees challenge their dismissal.

It also found that Petrojam made questionable payments related to procurement activities, had significant project cost overruns, and overspent on donations which impaired cash flow.

According to the auditor general's report, Petrojam did not provide documentary evidence to substantiate payments of $14.9 million for counselling service for employees, and consultancy services relating to its 35th anniversary planning activities.

Petrojam's management also spent $2.6 million to host two birthday parties, which were unrelated to its operations and did not conform to good corporate practices.

The Auditor General also observed that the value of donations doubled from 2013 to 2014 and 2017 to 2018.

The revelations about the free-for-all at Petrojam has led to the resignations of then energy minister Dr Andrew Wheately, the then chairman of its board Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh, and other board members, its General Manager Floyd Grindley and the Human Resources Manager Yolande Ramharrack, among others.


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