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More trouble for Kern - Former junior minister facing possible court action over unpaid furniture bills

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones

Having spent close to five years in court successfully fighting off charges of money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, former People's National Party Junior Energy Minister Kern Spencer could soon find himself back before the courts.

However, this time around the former member of parliament for North East St Elizabeth could find himself before a civil court over his alleged failure to pay close to $500,000 owed to Kingston-based furniture and appliance company, One Stop.

It is alleged that Spencer obtained office supplies from One Stop on three occasions in 2013 to the tune of $632,562.38. He drew cheques to make the downpayments for the goods, but the cheques were not honoured by the bank.

"The original plan was that he was to make a downpayment of half and complete payment in 90 days," director of One Stop, Rupesh Belel, told The Sunday Gleaner.

"He took goods and then he came back immediately after that, so it was hard to judge a customer and the cheques take at least 30 days to clear. So suddenly, as he took all the goods, the cheques started bouncing and we have been calling him," charged Belel.

The furniture and equipment were delivered to a new office Spencer had opened in Little Premier Plaza, Kingston 10, which, according to him, housed the marketing component of his production company, Super 'K' Studios.

"He closed down that office a few months after the deliveries were made and we didn't even realise, until one day we came to realise that he is not there anymore and he is operating only from St Elizabeth. He doesn't answer our calls, any of our text messages, emails, nothing," Belel further alleged.

"Once or twice, we got him on the phone and we arranged something with him that he would pay some money every week, which was not even five per cent of what he was supposed to pay, but we said 'fine, if that is what you are comfortable with we will work with you'. He paid $7,500 for two or three weeks and then, after that, nothing, and that is almost six months now."

Belel and his company have since secured the services of a bailiff to try and recover the items on their behalf failing which, they intend to take legal action.

"If he forces us to take him to court, then we have no other option," said Belel. "He was already in trouble, so we didn't want to go that route, that's the only reason why we have been waiting patiently for two years and have been trying to work with him."


Spencer's claims


But Spencer is claiming that his failure to settle the outstanding amount is because of difficulties he is experiencing in collecting from some of his customers.

"It is not an issue where the entity is in any financial difficulty, it is not a situation where the sum will not be settled," Spencer told The Sunday Gleaner.

"There are persons who owe us millions of dollars as well. And then what happens it is a ripple effect, it is a multiplier effect, when one owes a company it puts the other company in a little cash flow situation as well.

"So it is not any intention where these guys won't be paid, but it is a situation where the outstanding amount has to verified and it will be settled. So we do need to make good with some payments, but if we were able to collect from the scores of persons that owe us we would not be in cash flow problems."

Spencer also contends that the three cheques that were not honoured by the bank may actually have been stopped by him because of the malfunction of one of the items that was purchased.

But Belel has rubbished this claim, questioning why Spencer has made no reports of any malfunctions.