No conflict of interest — BGLC

No conflict of interest — BGLC

Clovis
Metcalfe

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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We write regarding recent media reports and attendant commentary concerning an application by a proposed new player for a licence to operate in the gaming market.

We are concerned that information in the public domain suggests a conflict of interest on the part of Executive Director Vitus Evans with respect to the licence application. The suggested conflict of interest relates to a prior relationship held by Evans with Supreme Ventures Limited, now the sole operator of the lottery business in Jamaica.

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, Evans had no ongoing commercial arrangements in place with Supreme Ventures Limited.

By way of background, in his capacity as the honorary consul of St. Lucia to Jamaica, Vitus Evans was engaged in July 2016 by Supreme Ventures Limited through his law practice, Vitus Evans and Associates, with the remit to conduct research on the opportunity for Supreme Ventures Limited to introduce gaming operations in St Lucia. At that time, there was no indication of a vacancy at Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC). He completed this assignment in December 2016 and submitted his invoice to Supreme Ventures Limited on January 4, 2017.

On January 10, 2017 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 Supreme Ventures Limited. On March 24, 2017 BGLC's Board of Commissioners formally extended an offer to Evans for the post of executive director.

On April 10, 2017 he reminded Supreme Ventures Limited by letter that his invoice submitted on January 4 remained outstanding. The letter specifically indicated that the invoice be settled prior to his assuming the position of executive director in order to avoid any semblance of conflict of interest.

Evans began his service as executive director of the BGLC on May 1, 2017.

On May 30, 2017 Supreme Ventures Limited settled the outstanding invoice dated January 4, 2017 via wire transfer.

Outlining the sequence of events is important in order to rebut any suggestion of conflict of interest, the very matter which is now the subject of public discourse.

We reiterate and underscore the transparency and integrity of the process by which applications for lottery licences are received, processed and approved by the BGLC, 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.

By law, all gaming licences are approved by the board of commissioners as stated in Section 49(1), page 52 of the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act (BGLA), which reads: “The commission in accordance with Part II may grant a licence to any person to promote a lottery and any such lottery which is promoted in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence shall not be unlawful.”

As can be seen, this clearly indicates that neither the minister of finance and the public service 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.

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.

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.

For further clarification, the document outlining the process for lottery licence applications can be viewed on our website at: http://bit.ly/BGLCLotteryLicenceApps

Clovis Metcalfe chairman of Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission.


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