Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Web of corruption?

Published:Wednesday | July 1, 2020 | 12:28 AM
Perceval Bahado-Singh
Perceval Bahado-Singh

Some of the people implicated in the Petrojam scandal were so strategically placed in positions at the oil refinery that the Integrity Commission is questioning whether they formed part of “corruption-enabling mechanisms”.

Academic friendships and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) affiliations were also flagged as the links that connected several key players to high-ranking officials, including Andrew Wheatley, the energy minister with responsibility for Petrojam and who was fired.

The findings were made in two reports tabled on Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

Key enablers?

1. Andrew Wheatley

Energy minister: March 2016-July 2018. Statement to Integrity Commission on his relationship with Sophia Deer, his former technical assistant, was “disingenuous”. He was “less than truthful”. Deer is mother of Wheatley’s nephew. No instance of nepotism in actions of Wheatley and Deer in the context of investigation.

2. Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh

Appointed Petrojam board chairman in 2016, resigned June 2018. Member of panel that interviewed Floyd Grindley for general manager post. Other panellists: Richard Creary, Ike Johnson, and Yolande Ramharrack. Reimbursed by Petrojam at least 27 times for overseas travels he organised. Prima facie case for dishonesty. Engaged in corruption by improperly exercised official functions as chairman to benefit himself from 2016 to 2018. Approval of $14m donation to Scientific Research Council (SRC) deemed a conflict of interest. Dr Cliff Riley, SRC executive director, “not only academic affiliate” of Bahado-Singh but a “close friend”. Riley was groomsman at Bahado-Singh’s wedding. Bahado-Singh said that Wheatley was his mentor and friend, while Wheatley said Bahado-Singh was his PhD student.

3. Floyd Grindley

Following appointment as general manager in November 2016, served on the panel that recruited Ramharrack as HR/administration manager. That position oversees Petrojam donations.

Waived three-month probation for Ramharrack to enable her to get $173,000 incentive payment. Circumstances irregular. Violated fiduciary responsibilities in authorising overseas travel reimbursements to Bahado-Singh. Improperly inserted himself in unauthorised recommendation of $2m to Munro College Old Boys’ Association. Grindley is a past student of Munro.

4. Richard Creary

Board member of Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, parent company of Petrojam at time he served on panel that recruited Ramharrack. The Port Maria mayor’s inclusion was irregular. Did not possess requisite skills and competence in HR and membership on PCJ’s HR subcommittee in 2016 would not have qualified him. Friend of Wheatley and JLP affiliate.

5. Yolande Ramharrack

Employment as head of HR “stained with irregularities”. Failed to meet educational requirements. Hired her brother at Petrojam. Did not declare conflict of interest. Dishonest and misled the Integrity Commission regarding role in organising birthday party for then Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley.

6. Ike Johnson

Member of the panel that recruited Grindley. Former assistant vice-president of Scotia Investments. Groomsman at Bahado-Singh’s wedding. Appointed to commission by Prime Minister Holness to review operations at Petrojam.

7. Ronique Budram-Ford

Was promoted by Grindley to head of procurement unit, position that governs the award of Petrojam contracts. Dishonest and misled the Integrity Commission regarding role in organising birthday party for Bahado-Singh. Prima facie evidence that Budram-Ford, Ramharrack, and Grindley engaged in “conspiracy to defraud” Petrojam and Government regarding use of funds for birthday parties for Wheatley and Bahado-Singh. Ramharrack, Budram-Ford, and Grindley all failed to submit declarations of their assets and incomes for 2017-18 in breach of the law.

Other key persons mentioned

1. Clayton Smith

Brother of Ramharrack. Recruitment as instrument and electrical technician “stained with irregularities”. Failed to score above desired grade on competency tests. Key signatures to contract missing. Applied without stating specific role being sought. Admitted being informed of job by Ramharrack.

2. Michon Daley

Recuitment as telephone operator/receptionist “highly irregular”. No evidence of academic qualifications. Missing key signature from contract.

3. Rev Dorothy Grant

Hiring as counsellor “tainted with irregularities and improprieties”. Recommended by Ramharrack, approved by Grindley. Rationale for employment “unfounded”.

4. Dr Lowell Dilworth

A chemical pathologist. Role on panel that recruited Ramharrack was “stark disregard” for Petrojam policies. Plays no role or relationship with Petrojam. Did not possess requisite skills and competence to assess Ramharrack’s suitability.

5. Olivier Cole

Employment as project director was “highly irregular”. Finance ministry did not approve post. Application rejected by first-interview panel because of lack of requisite knowledge and experience. Subsequently recruited by Ramharrack and Simeon Hall.

6. Sophia Deer

Former technical assistant to Wheatley. Mother of Wheatley’s nephew. JLP affiliate. Served on public boards of two scandal-scarred energy ministry agencies.

7. Professor Errol Morrison

Failure to provide Petrojam with official documentary evidence to substantiate that donations received by University Diabetes Outreach Programme and National Council on Science and Technology used for intended purpose. Six-million dollar Petrojam sponsorship to National Sicence and Technology Fair “tainted with suspicion”. Academic affiliate of Wheatley’s and Bahado-Singh’s.

8. Tyrone Robinson

Chairman of North East Regional Authority (NEHRA). Wrote letter to Grindley requesting contribution from Petorjam to help buy $1.2m incubator for Annotto Bay Hospital. Held discussions with Creary. NERHA failed to provide Petrojam with quotation or invoice for purchase of incubator. Quotation of $578,290 found.

9. Lionel Myrie

Director of PCJ. Statements from Myrie, Wheatley and Oswald Williams on alleged involvement of now deceased former councillor Owen Palmer in regarding Petrojam donations in Wheatley’s South Central constituency questionable. JLP affiliate.

Persons currently with public roles:

Andrew Wheatley – MP, St Catherine South Central

Richard Creary – board member, PCJ

Lionel Myrie – board member, PCJ

Dr Cliff Riley – executive director, SRC

Sophia Deer – principal, Homestead Primary

Professor Errol Morrison – director general, National Commission on Science and Technology

Tyrone Robinson – chairman, North East Regional Health Authority, board member, PCJ, National Water Commission