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Two senior staffers at Petrojam quit

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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Two senior staffers at Petrojam have resigned out of frustration at developments rocking the State-owned oil refinery, a reliable source told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The two are Chevril Shaw, manager for the Vacuum Distillation Unit Project, which is central to the overall refinery upgrading programme that Petrojam is undertaking through its arrangement with its Venezuelan partner. The other is Roderick Codner, senior supervisor for reliability and maintenance.

The resignations take effect at the end of June.

“They are really good and decent people,” the source said. “One of them was sidelined by the management and they simply just threw in the towel out of frustration. The problem is that there is no internal recourse for the staff.”

News of the resignations comes two days after the three Jamaican members of the board — Chairman Perceval Badahoo-Singh, Richard Creary, and Harold Malcolm — tendered their resignations, and a day after Cabinet approved the appointment of new members. The other three members of the board are the Venezuelans who represent Petroleos de Venezuela/ PDV Caribe SA which has a 49 per cent share in the company.

Meanwhile, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) yesterday said it is time for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) to be called in to investigate the situation at Petrojam.

“There are clear indications of what may possibly be fraudulent transactions in the documentation available to the public so far,” PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said in a statement.

The PNP said the police investigation must look specifically into at least two instances of reimbursement of expenses to the former chairman for travel and related expenses to meetings in the United Kingdom and Brazil, which he did not undertake.

“Although he was absent from the meetings, he reportedly submitted claims and was refunded by Petrojam for air fares and per diem related to the trips,” the Opposition pointed out.

The Opposition contends that in the case of the London trip, Bahadoo-Singh was reimbursed and originally accepted US$8,910.48 for travel expenses although he missed the meeting, and in relation to his Brazil claim, Petrojam reimbursed him US$7,873.28.

The PNP said that the other instance of highly questionable activity relates to the agreement between Petrojam Limited and Asha Corporation for financial analyses and managerial services for which payments were made by direct wire transfers to the US-dollar National Commercial Bank account of an individual-based on invoices dated October 15, 2017, November 16, 2017 and November 20, 2017.

Both matters came up last week when general manager of Petrojam Floyd Grindley appeared before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament, but the committee was forced to ask the Petrojam team to come back with clarification, as they were unable to provide adequate answers on the issues.

“At a minimum, Petrojam must produce its due diligence findings on Asha Corporation prior to its engagement with the company and provide an explanation for payments being made to a person other than the contracted entity,” the PNP said.

The Opposition is also demanding answers about cost overrun in the construction of a wall at Petrojam and the circumstances under which the estimate of $29.7 million provided by the National Works Agency jumped to $91 million.

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