Fri | May 29, 2020

PNP demands NESOL head dismissed over 25-year-old cocaine conviction

Published:Friday | July 13, 2018 | 12:00 AM

A new controversy has opened between the Government and the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) in the energy sector.

This time it is over the National Energy Solutions Limited (NESOL), even as the battle surrounding Petrojam drags on.

The PNP’s shadow minister of energy, Phillip Paulwell, fired the first salvo yesterday as he called for Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his capacity as Minister of Energy, to immediately relieve Carolyn Warren of her duties as managing director of NESOL as, he said, she has a record of conviction for narcotics trafficking.

According to Paulwell, the PNP has confirmed that Warren is a convicted drug trafficker who was convicted and spent some three years in prison for trafficking in cocaine. 

Paulwell said this was just another example of the lack of accountability by the Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley in the performance of his duties and another reason why he should be dismissed by the prime minister without further delay.

He said the board of directors of NESOL was also culpable as it is clear that no due diligence and fit and proper criteria were applied in selecting Warren as head of such an important company in the Government of Jamaica. 

Paulwell said the selection must have also been brought to the attention of Wheatley in his capacity as minister responsible for the agency. 

“It is clear that the minister committed gross dereliction of duty, by not ensuring that the board had done its work in accordance with Government of Jamaica standards, which include the submission of a clean police record and adherence to conduct as set out in the Staff Orders,” said Paulwell.

He added that in light of the arrest of Lawrence Pommells with J$85 million in cash and the ongoing investigation by police agency C-TOC, the appointment and continuation of someone with a criminal conviction in such a sensitive position is a major embarrassment to the Government of Jamaica.

'I made a mistake and I paid for it', says Warren 

Carolyn Warren, the head of the National Energy Solutions Limited has reacted to Opposition spokesman Phillip Paulwell who has demanded her removal because she is a former drug convict.

“I made a mistake then and I paid for it," Warren said in a statement this morning,

Warren admitted that she was convicted some 25 years ago but denied that she spent time in prison as she was handed a suspended sentence.

See Warren's full statement below:

I note the statement by Phillip Paulwell and the Opposition PNP demanding that I be sacked from the post of General Manager at the National Energy Solutions (NESOL) on the basis that I have a record as a drug offender.

It is true that 25 years ago when I was a young woman, I was convicted of a drug offence. I was given a suspended sentence and did not spend a day in prison. Mr. Paulwell asserted that I spent three years in prison. That is not true.

Since the suspended sentence which had set me back in life, I have honestly dedicated myself to turning my life around and working with young people to ensure that they do not make the same mistake I did.

Since my mistake, I have eschewed any wrongdoing. I have worked hard to obtain my undergraduate degree in management and am currently pursuing my master's in the same field. 

I have worked several jobs in the private sector since, including at Nationwide News Network (NNN) where I spent  14 years and eventually rose to the position of Sales Manager. During my tenure there, there were no issues or complaints about the integrity of my conduct because I have committed myself to providing for my family, serving my country and living a clean life.

I have applied to have my record expunged. Whatever my fate may be I am determined to continue the work I have been doing in my Church to encourage young people to stay on the straight and narrow path.

I am not the same person I was 25 years ago. I made a mistake then and I paid for it. I suspect I may pay for it for the rest of my life.

At NESOL, I am attempting to serve my country. I apologise for not declaring what happened 25 years ago prior to my appointment. I did not do so because I know I am not the same person and I figured people may try to judge me.

I was pleased to on Tuesday hear at the meeting of the PAAC, the committee Chairman, Dr. Wykeham NcNeill, commend NESOL on work it has been doing under my leadership to bring electrical power to rural Jamaica, including sections of his constituency 

Even if Mr. Paulwell and the PNP score what they may feel is a political victory in having my services terminated, I will rebuild my life again.

I also appeal to all people who have made mistakes in the past not to lose hope but to carry on and attempt to make a positive difference despite any setback which may come.

- Carolyn Warren

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