Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Trust not fake, but delinquent

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Checks by The Gleaner with the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) have found that the South West St Andrew Trust, which Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday declared was unregistered, was in fact registered on May 8, 2012.

However, the Trust, which has as its directors Dr Winston Davidson, Abe Dabdoub, and Sterling Soares, has been delinquent since it has not filed its annual returns since it was established four years ago.

Chief Executive Officer of the COJ Judith Ramlogan told The Gleaner yesterday that her office wrote to the company advising that it had not filed its annual returns.


'Not a real trust'


Holness told his parliamentary colleagues that the South West St Andrew Trust, which received 11.58 acres of government land in South West St Andrew valued at $164 million for $10,000, had not been formally established. The decision to transfer the land from the Factories Corporation of Jamaica to the Trust was made by the previous administration.

He added that the Trust had not yet paid the $10,000 for the property.

The prime minister said a preliminary review of the transaction by the attorney general, as requested by the auditor general, had revealed that the entity was "not a real trust".

At the same time, a release from the opposition People's National Party (PNP) yesterday said the Trust was formed as a non-profit organisation for the promotion of art, charity, sports, and community development. Its articles of incorporation said it was set up to carry on business solely in the interest and for the benefit of the people of South West St Andrew. Responding to a claim by Holness that the entity had no Trust deed, the PNP argued that it was not necessary for the Trust to properly discharge its functions as a non-profit organisation and as permitted by its articles of association.

"An initial enquiry was made to the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce for the removal of 'Limited' from its name. This is a prerequisite for registration as a charity. This application is not completed," the PNP said in its release.

It said that no application has been made for charitable status as yet primarily because based on current activities, that status is not yet needed. The Gleaner was able to make contact with one of the directors, Abe Dabdoub. While he did not want to go on record with his response to the claim by the prime minister, he said that his lawyer would confirm whether the firm was registered.