No conflict

No conflict

BGLC commissioners defend executive director in lottery licence controversy

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

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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COMMISSIONERS of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) have come to the defence of their executive director, Vitus Evans, who is facing public scrutiny over a possible conflict of interest in the consideration for the granting of a lottery licence to Mahoe Gaming Enterprises Limited.

Mahoe has applied for a licence to enter the multi-billion local lottery sector but concerns have been raised because one of its board members, is connected to a former manager of Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) at a time when Evans was contracted to that company.

In a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, Evans rejected any suggestion of a conflict of interest and now he is getting the backing of his bosses.

In a letter to the Observer, chairman of the BGLC Clovis Metcalfe outlined the sequence of events leading up to Evans joining the commission as its day-to-day manager and underscored that the executive director does not have the authority to grant lottery licences.

“As it relates to the allegation of conflict of interest, we emphasise that the Board of Commissioners was satisfied that, at the time of his appointment, Mr Vitus Evans had no on-going commercial arrangements in place with SVL,” said Metcalfe.

He noted that Evans was engaged in July 2016 by SVL through his law practice, Vitus Evans and Associates, with the remit to conduct research on the opportunity for SVL to introduce gaming operations in St Lucia.

“At that time, there was no indication of a vacancy at BGLC. He completed this assignment in December 2016 and, submitted his invoice to Supreme Ventures Limited on January 4, 2017,” said Metcalfe.

“On January 10, 2017 Mr Evans was invited to attend a panel interview for the post of executive director of BGLC. At the interview, he declared that he had undertaken, and completed, an assignment on St Lucia on behalf of SVL. On March 24, 2017 BGLC's Board of Commissioners formally extended an offer to Mr Evans for the post of executive director,” added Metcalfe

The BGLC chairman pointed out that on April 10, 2017 Evans reminded SVL, by letter, that his invoice submitted on January 4 remained outstanding and should be settled prior to his assuming the position of executive director in order to avoid any semblance of conflict of interest.

Metcalfe confirmed the Observer's report that Evans started his service as executive director of the BGLC on May 1, 2017, but was not paid by SVL until the end of that month.

“We reiterate and underscore the transparency and integrity of the process by which applications for lottery licences are received, processed and approved by the commission, which I chair. This could not be otherwise, as there is a clear and unambiguous legal process by which gaming licences are granted in Jamaica,” declared Metcalfe.

He underscored that by law, all gaming licences are approved by the Board of Commissioners of the BGLC as stated in Section 49(1), page 52 of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act.

“As can be seen, this clearly indicates that neither the Minister of Finance and the Public Service [Dr Nigel Clarke], nor the BGLC's executive director has authority to approve lottery licences. Further, the executive director, not being a member of the Board of Commissioners, would not participate in the determination of the granting of licences,” said Metcalfe.

“Let me state unequivocally that the minister has never intervened in the process of any application for a lottery licence. In fact, he has had no discussion or provided any guidance to the commissioners or executive director on this matter,” added Metcalfe.

Clarke had formerly served as an executive member in a company controlled by Paul B (PB) Scott who is one of the directors in Mahoe Gaming Enterprises which has applied for a lottery licence.

The BGLC chairman also pointed out that “the consideration of an application for a lottery licence commences with a stringent due diligence exercise which is conducted by independent agencies to determine if applicants for licences are fit and proper. It is after this process is completed that the commissioners review the information provided in a licence application”.


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