Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Don't resile from signing licence - Symbiote attorney

Published:Thursday | July 21, 2016 | 7:00 AM

Attorney for Symbiote Investments Limited Patrick Bailey has raised concerns about the publication of adverse findings by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) in relation to the company before it was given an opportunity to be heard by the proper authorities.

In a statement yesterday, Bailey said: "We have seen the OCG's report and noted several findings that require legal advice and consultation."

Contractor General Dirk Harrison has advised Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley not to sign the domestic mobile spectrum licence, which was granted to Symbiote Investments Limited.

In a special report of investigation conducted into the circumstances surrounding the granting and or issuance of a domestic mobile spectrum licence to Symbiote Investments Limited, the contractor general advised Wheatley to utilise the discretion afforded him under Section 13 of the Telecommunications Act and not ink the licence.

"This is based upon the preponderance of facts, which directly associate Mr George Neil with Symbiote Investments Limited and the existence of adverse traces in relation to Mr Neil," Harrison penned in a special report to Parliament.

Yesterday, Bailey argued that there were several questionable findings by the OCG that could have easily been clarified by the production of documents that were already in the possession of the regulators. "For example, the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) had conclusively stated that Mr George Neil was not the subject of any investigation in direct response to the concern that he was the subject of an 'adverse trace'."

 

NO NEW MATERIAL RAISED

 

He said the JCF's letter of May 28, 2015, was provided to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology.

According to Bailey, the OCG's report did not raise any new material that should cause the minister or Cabinet to resile from their decision to grant the licence.

Bailey argued that the OCG has merely given his own interpretation of facts that were disclosed by the applicant and which were known to the regulators and the minister when the decisions were taken.

The company attorney said he was surprised by the OCG's conclusions, noting that the oversight body did not have the authority to substitute his judgment for that of the minister.

The contractor general had outlined that the domestic mobile spectrum licence, which was granted to Symbiote Investments Limited on April 18, 2016, was granted approximately seven days after the conditional Cabinet approval for the award of the referenced licence was given on April 11, 2016.

He pointed out that the entities Index Communications Network Limited, trading as Gotel, and NewGen Technologies Co Ltd merged their networks and were operating under the brand of Symbiote Investments Limited.

Harrison noted that George Neil had a financial interest in Symbiote Investments Limited and had indicated verbally on at least one occasion to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) that Symbiote Investments Ltd was "financially backed by him".

Further, Harrison divulged that investigations conducted by the JCF revealed adverse traces against George Neil. "These adverse traces were also the subject of the OCG's 2009 investigation, which was conducted into the circumstances surrounding the grant and/or issuance of telecommunications licences to Index Communications Network Limited trading as Gotel," the contractor general said.

Giving more details, Harrison said that in relation to the applications provided to the OUR and the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), as well as the company details supplied to the Companies Office of Jamaica for Symbiote Investments Limited, Index Lease and Finance Company Limited, Narysingh Limited and Caricel Limited, the names 'Enos George Neil', 'George G. Neil', 'George Neil', and 'Enos Neil' refer to one and the same person.

"The OCG concludes that the intentional variations to the aforementioned names as reported to the Companies Office of Jamaica, the SMA, and the OUR is, at best, an attempt to mislead the Government of Jamaica in terms of the true identity of the directors, shareholders, and/or beneficial owners of the referenced companies. The OCG notes with emphasis that Mr George Neil was added as a director of Symbiote Investments Limited on June 2, 2016 and was removed on July 1, 2016."

According to the contractor general the actions of the company "amounts to an unconvincing but repeated attempt to mislead and gain ministerial approval subsequent to circumventing the due diligence process. To say the least, these actions are disingenuous as Symbiote Investments Limited has unsuccessfully sought to go beneath the radar of the due diligence process".