Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Manchester Fraud Trial | Integrity Commission rep says fraud probe was fair

Published:Tuesday | June 25, 2019 | 12:25 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

Manchester:

As questions surfaced yesterday about the manner in which the probe into the multimillion-dollar fraud at the Manchester Municipal Corporation was conducted, a representative of the Integrity Commission insisted that the probe was done by the book.

As the trial continued in the Manchester Parish Court, attorney Norman Godfrey, who is representing former Deputy Superintendent of Roads and Works Sanja Elliott; his wife, Tasha Gaye Goulbourne-Elliott; and co-accused Dwayne Sibbles, said several documents presented to the court should not be considered admissible.

Cross-examining the witness, Godfrey questioned the guidelines used by the then Office of the Contractor General – which has now been subsumed into the Integrity Commission – to conduct its investigation into suspected irregularities at the local authority.

The representative said that critical tools guiding the legal framework investigations are outlined in the Government of Jamaica Handbook on Public Sector Procurement and Procedures 2014 and the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2008.

Another attorney, Danielle Archer, who is representing former Secretary Manager and Director of Finance David Harris, later asked the Integrity Commission representative if he had seen documents, including MOUs between the office of former Mayor Brenda Ramsay and Harris, about works to be carried out.

“No, I don’t recall,” the witness said.

BIASED INVESTIGATIONS?

Attorney Samoi Campbell, who is representing Kendale Roberts, challenged the witness, saying the investigations, including a 2016 raid that led to the confiscation of documents, invoices and hundreds of cheques, were insufficient.

“It (the investigation) got us here,” the witness fired back.

“Would you say the investigations were fair?” Campbell asked.

“I would say, yes,” the witness replied.

“Would you say the investigations were biased?” she then asked, to which the witness responded, “I don’t know the accused.”

Meanwhile, as the 12th witness was called to give evidence as to why his name was present on invoices and cheques without him carrying out the works mentioned, he repeated what has become a familiar storyline in the trial.

The witness admitted that while he did do some work for the corporation, he was also asked to encash cheques for work he did not perform.

He said he would receive a call from Elliott to pick up a cheque and encash it at a popular financial institution.

The monies, he said, ranging from $270,000 to $450,000, would then be handed over to Elliott.

The matter continues in the Manchester Parish Court tomorrow.

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