Privy Council to hear PNP's Trafigura appeal March 1, 2021

Privy Council to hear PNP's Trafigura appeal March 1, 2021

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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The Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council will next March hear an appeal filed by People's National Party (PNP) officials in the long-running Trafigura case.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) yesterday confirmed news reaching the Jamaica Observer that the Privy Council, Jamaica's final appellate court, will hear the matter on March 1, 2021.

The ODPP said it was informed of the hearing date yesterday.

The matter was taken to the Privy Council after the Court of Appeal, in 2017, dismissed an appeal against a Supreme Court ruling that former PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, Phillip Paulwell, Robert Pickersgill, Colin Campbell, and Norton Hinds must testify in open court about a $31-million donation by Trafigura Baheer to the then-governing PNP in 2006.

Dutch authorities want to question the PNP members about the donation made by the Dutch firm, but the five have insisted that they have no information that can assist the Dutch investigation.

Defence lawyers for the five had argued that the judge erred in his ruling and that his ruling was flawed. They also argued that the individuals cannot be compelled to cooperate with requesting foreign states, that the treaties have to be subjected to Jamaican laws, that they already indicated they know nothing about alleged bribery in respect to Trafigura, and cannot help the Dutch authorities any further.

But the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the appeal, ruled that the proceedings brought under the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act are subject to the principles of open justice as mentioned in Section 16 (3) of the constitution, and that the ruling of the judge that these proceedings should be conducted in open court is correct in law and “does not warrant this [Appeal] Court's interference”.

The five appellants were asked to answer questions regarding an investigation by the Netherlands Government into the 2006 payment made to the PNP while Trafigura had an oil-lifting agreement with Jamaica.

The money was deposited into an account named CCOC, which turned out to be the acronym for 'Colin Campbell Our Candidate', to which certain members of the PNP were signatories.

According to the PNP, the money was a donation, but Trafigura said it was payment on a commercial transaction. The party later reported that the money was returned.

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

The Trafigura scandal resulted in Campbell's resignation as information minister.

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