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Asset Recovery Agency goes after former NSWMA manager's property

Published:Friday | May 13, 2016 | 5:08 AMLivern Barrett

A parish judge has given the state-run Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) the green light to seek to recover millions of dollars from Mark Rodney, the former National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) manager convicted on corruption charges.

Yesterday, Parish Judge Maxine Ellis granted an application made by the ARA, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, for an order to have Rodney committed to the Supreme Court for a benefit hearing to be conducted.

A committal order, according to attorney for the ARA, Susan Watson Bonner, is one of the vehicles used by the agency to recover "benefits" believed to be derived from criminal conduct.

"Where a defendant is convicted of any offence that he is likely to have benefited from then the agency or the DPP (director of public prosecutions) may make an application for that benefit to be recovered under section five of the Proceeds of Crime Act being that they were criminal property," Watson Bonner explained.

 

RESTRAINT ORDER OBTAINED

 

She also revealed that the ARA has already obtained a restraint order barring Rodney from disposing of property linked to him. According to her, the order was obtained in the Supreme Court shortly after he was arrested and charged.

Ellis' decision to grant the application by the ARA came moments before she sentenced the former NSWMA parks and gardens manager to fines totalling $5.6 million in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.

Rodney was found guilty in March of six counts of illegal use of confidential information and one count of obtaining an illicit benefit - all breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act.

He was fined $800,000 on each count and will have to serve six months in prison if the fines are not paid.

The fines are separate from the funds the ARA will seek to recover.

Rodney was arrested in 2012 after the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance conducted a "targeted examination" of the books of the agency that has responsibility for garbage disposal.

Prosecutors led evidence that he improperly awarded contracts totalling $9.5 million to a company for which he was the sole signatory.

However, attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie, who is representing Rodney, has given verbal notice that his client will appeal the conviction.

"There are a number of grounds on which the appeal will be based. I am very confident in respect of the appeal of this matter," Champagnie told The Gleaner yesterday.

"This is probably one of the first cases of its kind under the legislation under which he was found guilty," he added, noting that Rodney was employed to the NSWMA on a contractual basis and was never a member of the civil service.

Watson Bonner said the ARA will now prepare the committal order for Ellis' signature before taking their case to the Supreme Court.