Petrojam 4 in a pickle
FOUR employees of State-run oil refinery Petrojam Limited are to be charged for breaching the Integrity Commission Act.
The Integrity Commission’s Director of Corruption Prosecution Keisha Prince-Kameka has ruled that Customer Service Representative Wayne Salmon, Process Engineer Michael Wilkinson, Terminal Technician Sydney Brown, and Administrative Assistant Sheryll Blair should all be charged for a breach of Section 43(1)(a) of the Integrity Commission Act for failure to file a statutory declaration for the period ending December 31, 2019.
The indicative rulings were made public on Tuesday after they were tabled in the House of Representatives along with the accompanying investigative reports by the commission. The reports were received by the House last Wednesday.
In the reports, the commission’s Director of Investigation (DI) Kevon Stephenson said all the cited employees, who have a legal obligation to file a statutory declaration with the commission, failed to do so during the review period, without providing reasonable cause.
Stephenson said that, having failed to adhere to that obligation, the four employees were notified by the commission, given time to comply, and when the time for compliance elapsed they were given a further extension, but “to no avail”.
He said they were given a further opportunity to discharge their liability by way of paying a fixed penalty to Tax Administration Jamaica as well as to submit the outstanding statutory declaration to the commission, but, again, without success.
“Based on the foregoing, the DI finds in all of the circumstances of this case that a referral to the director of corruption prosecution is justifiable,” he said.
According to the Government’s information brochure on statutory declaration, public officials and parliamentarians are required to annually submit to the Integrity Commission (IC), through the director of information and complaints, a declaration of their assets, liabilities and income for the calendar year just ended (or other period where appropriate).
Currently, all parliamentarians and public officials in receipt of total annual gross emoluments of $3.5 million or more, as well as public officials who are so advised by notice published in the Jamaica Gazette, are required to file. IC commissioners have proposed that this threshold be moved to $12 million or more.
Further, any other public official who, or category of public official which the commission requests in writing to do so is also required to file statutory declarations.
The commission had first notified the public about the investigation reports in a press release last Wednesday, the day they were submitted.
In the release, the commission said it anticipated that its investigation reports, which were submitted pursuant to and in conformance with Section 54 of the Integrity Commission Act, together with the associated indicative rulings, would be tabled in both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible.
The matter of how IC reports are tabled in Parliament has been mired in controversy since former House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert withheld reports, noting that they would go to the Integrity Commission Oversight Committee before being tabled.
However, during the tabling of the reports on Tuesday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Juliet Holness reiterated her statement made on November 7 in respect of her ruling on reports submitted by the IC, stating that people have sought to distort what was said.
“Reports of the director of investigation submitted under Section 54 (4) [of the Act] will be tabled as soon as possible after receipt by the Parliament, having regard to the serious nature of the matters that are contained thereinâ€¦.After it is tabled it will then be submitted to the Integrity Commission Oversight Committee for their consideration and report,” she said.