Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Without a trace - OCG can't account for $2m linked to labour minister's campaign manager

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 6:00 AMJovan Johnson
Debushing work under way last year.
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The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) says that it cannot account for $2.5 million in the debushing project linked to Tyrone Robinson, chairman of the North East Health Authority and the campaign manager for labour and social security minister Shahine Robinson.

The OCG was scathing in its report of his answers to investigators, saying that it was of the "firm opinion that Robinson was disingenuous and sought to, and did, mislead the contractor general".

The findings are contained in a special investigation report that Dirk Harrison's office did of the $600 million project prior to the local government election, which the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) claimed was used to "buy support". But the PNP benefited more than the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

 

NO EVIDENCE OF PAYMENT

 

The OCG concluded that it was "unable to determine whether the programme was economical, efficient, or effective" and said that it found no evidence to support claims that the project was used to pay contractors who contributed to the JLP.

But the report said that Robinson, who is also a board member of the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd, was not forthcoming about his role as a facilitator engaged by Construction Solutions Ltd.

That company is headed by engineer Vincent Taylor and was responsible for St Mary, St Catherine, and St Ann.

St Ann is the parish for which the labour and social security minister is a member of parliament.

"[Mr] Robinson facilitated payments in the amount of over $4.1 million to persons engaged in the performance of a contract, which was awarded to Construction Solutions Ltd. Having regard to the evidence of Taylor, Robinson was provided with payments in the amount of $2,448,524.16 for the facilitation of works, which were undertaken in the parish of St Catherine," the report said.

But Taylor's admission, the OCG said, "directly conflicts with the evidence given by Robinson that he facilitated no works in the parish of St Catherine. Based upon this dichotomy, the OCG is unable to account for the manner in which the sum of $2,448,524.16 attributed to works executed in St Catherine was spent."

 

Evidence riddled with half-truths, concealed answers

 

The Office of the Contractor General is also reporting that it had trouble questioning Tyrone Robinson.

"The evidence provided by Tyrone Robinson is riddled with half-truths, concealed answers, and unanswered questions. In some instances the representations made by Robinson amount to a direct attempt to mislead as the answers are not just an insult to the authority of the contractor general, but defy common sense and intelligence," the report said.

The answers, the OCG claimed, "fell short" of assisting its probe because Robinson "sought to change, build, and insert answers on account of his unfamiliarity with the manner in which his role and function were actually executed".

It pointed out that though Robinson "may successfully be able to plead ignorance of some of the facts", the OCG rejects the evidence concerning the manner in which he was engaged, his lack of consultation with the labour and social security minister, the persons engaged, and how the $4.1 million was spent.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com