Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Ruel Reid Countdown - DPP to deliver opinion on criminal probe in five days; prosecutors combing through flood of documents

Published:Saturday | July 13, 2019 | 12:23 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior News Coordinator
Sacked Education Minister Ruel Reid
DPP Paula Llewellyn
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In less than a week, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will hand over a report to the Financial Investigations Division (FID), giving details of its opinion on the criminal investigation being conducted into alleged wrongdoing by sacked Education Minister Ruel Reid.

The country’s top prosecutor, Paula Llewellyn, told The Gleaner yesterday that her office had assigned four senior prosecutors to comb through documents presented by the FID in relation to the high-profile matter.

On Thursday, the four senior prosecutors, including a deputy director of public prosecutions (DPP), two assistant DPPs, and a Crown counsel, briefed Llewellyn on the material provided to them to date.

“They gave me an assessment, and we discussed ... what they have found and what was there and they are presently writing a detailed report, which will be sent back to FID, indicating our assessment of all the material we have so far,” Llewellyn said.

Giving details about her office’s involvement in the matter, the DPP said that the FID, had approached her office for guidance in its probe into irregularities at the Ministry of Education and a number of its agencies, including the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

At first, Llewellyn said that she had asked two senior prosecutors to be available for consultation with FID investigators after the agency submitted initial documents, including statements, for review at intermittent periods.

According to the DPP, over the last week, a flood of additional documentation was submitted, prompting her to assign two other prosecutors to review the documents this week.

She noted, however that to date, her office had not been given a complete file from the FID or the police in relation to the Reid matter.

Llewellyn said that her office is pushing to submit its report to the FID by next Thursday.

The DPP made it clear that her opinion could pave the way for the FID to take action, such as making an arrest, or it could indicate that the material was insufficient and did not rise to the threshold of a criminal charge.

On May 20, Reid, a high-profile member of the Andrew Holness-led Cabinet, was sent packing by the prime minister, who asked the former minister to step aside amid an investigation into allegations of corruption at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Weeks later, the CMU got swept up in the allegations surrounding Reid, which, last week, triggered a leave of absence from the institution’s president, Fritz Pinnock, to allow for the FID probe and the auditor general’s investigation to be completed.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com