Widen forensic audit at Petrojam, says Phillips
President of the People’s National Party and Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips want a full forensic audit of Petrojam in light of the corruption uncovered at the state-owned oil refinery by the Auditor General's Department.
Phillips said yesterday's announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness calling for a forensic audit of unaccounted for barrels of oil at the refinery is too limited given the wide scale of issues at the agency.
“... The limited scope of the audit is tantamount to a sham and will not satisfy the public’s demand for comprehensive uncovering of the corruption at Petrojam,” said Phillips in a statement.
The President of the People’s National Party and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, M.P., is rejecting the limited terms of reference announced by the Prime Minister to guide the forensic audit of Petrojam in response to calls from the Opposition and several organisations, following a report done by the Auditor General into the operations the state-owned agency.
The PNP said the limited scope of the audit is tantamount to a sham and will not satisfy the public’s demand for comprehensive uncovering of the corruption at Petrojam.
Dr Phillips said the Prime Minister's ordering a forensic audit of the oil losses alone is unacceptable and should be repudiated, as there was widespread corruption, fraud, misappropriation and illegal spending in several areas of the company's operation, and we need to get to the bottom of this catastrophe.
The Opposition Leader said his demand today for a specific forensic audit into transactions between Petrojam and West Indies Petroleum Limited should not be taken lightly.
He said the Opposition is demanding that a separate process be established to investigate the extent of the missing oil revenue identified in an audit by PDVSA (the Venezuelan partner in Petrojam) in February 2018 and now validated in the AG’s report, which was released to the Parliament last week.
Dr Phillips highlighted that the audit done by PDVSA, which was given to the government since February 2018, alleged that Petrojam paid JMD$334M above market for the product on the spot market for High Sulphur Diesel (HSD), bought through an emergency procurement mechanism.
The Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister should demonstrate a genuine willingness to deal with corruption and therefore stop creating further confusion by segmenting or watering down the scope and importance of an audit, which is necessary for taxpayers to know where their money went, and who should be held accountable.
The Opposition maintains that appropriate investigations must be conducted by the Major Organized Crime Agency (MOCA) and the Integrity Commission to determine whether there was criminal behaviour and those responsible.
We are reiterating our call that, where necessary, the government should seek the investigative assistance from our International Partners who have the required expertise to uncover the quagmire and any enabling mechanism.