Sat | Aug 17, 2019

Eyes on key players - DPP cites four criminal, two common-law breaches possibly committed at education ministry

Published:Friday | July 19, 2019 | 12:39 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
DPP Paula Llewellyn

Financial investigators have indicated that a legal opinion received from the nation’s chief prosecutor yesterday provided “very good guidance” in their wide-ranging corruption probe involving sacked Education Minister Ruel Reid.

Robin Sykes, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID), said the legal opinion from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn contained some “excellent recommendations” for investigators.

“We are going to follow every single recommendation,” Sykes said yesterday, adding that the ruling involved all the “key players”.

“It is a very comprehensive advisory. When we put it together, hopefully, we will put the strongest possible case before the court,” he continued.

Llewellyn, in a statement yesterday, said that her office has examined available material provided by investigators and found “possible administrative breaches and conduct which may have contravened four criminal statutes” and possibly “two common-law offences”.

“Consequent upon the assessment, we have earlier today (yesterday) provided the Financial Investigations Division with a detailed 13-page document, which includes a legal opinion, guidance, and recommendations,” the statement said.

Llewellyn indicated that the document was crafted by four senior prosecutors and said she has reviewed it and endorsed their conclusions.

She noted, however, that while her office can make recommendations to investigators to prosecute individuals or indicate that there is insufficient material for a viable prosecution, “the police and other investigative bodies have ‘primacy of decision-making’ on whether to place any matter before the court”.

The FID boss, however, made it clear that investigators would follow the recommendations made by the DPP’s office.

“It is a great case of collaboration, and we want to ensure that the case is done thoroughly,” Sykes said.

Reid was asked by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to resign as minister of education, youth and information in March amid allegations of corruption at the ministry and several agencies that fall under its remit.

Investigators have since revealed that their probe is focused on the $5.1 million per year, three-year contract the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) signed with Othneil Lawrence, former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) member of parliament for St Ann North West, to serve as a consultant.

The contract took effect on April 1, 2018, and three months later, the JLP announced that Reid was confirmed as its caretaker for the constituency.

Investigators have also zeroed in on a two-year US$155,000 contract the CMU signed with Gail Campbell Dunwell – a Jamaican living in the United States – to serve as an international donor consultant. They also have their eyes on the Career Advancement Programme-Youth Empowerment Solution project.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com