PCJ director Lionel Myrie linked to second $multimillion Petrojam donation
Livern Barrett, Senior Staff Reporter
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has learned that Petroleum Corporation Jamaica (PCJ) director Lionel Myrie played a role in second multi-million dollar donation by the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam to citizens group in St Catherine.
Petrojam acknowledged, in documents provided to the PAC that an email Myrie sent to then Petrojam general manager Floyd Grindley "formed the basis" on which the company granted a $10 million donation requested by the Homestead Citizens for Action Benevolent Society.
The donation was requested for the construction of two classroom blocks at the Homestead Primary School in St Catherine and current Petrojam general manager Winston Watson, has confirmed that the money was paid directly to the institution.
The PAC had earlier learned that a performance audit of Petrojam, which was conducted by the Auditor General’s Department, found that Myrie also forwarded, on behalf of a citizens group identified as the Sydenham Citizens' Association, an email to the Grindley requesting a $9 million donation for a community project.
Lionel Myrie was initially insistent that he could not provide assistance beyond a statement he read, however, he changed his tune after #PAC chairman Mark Golding informed that refusal to cooperate without just cause could result in a charge and prison term or fine on conviction pic.twitter.com/Jfjn7dlDaZ
— Jamaica Gleaner (@JamaicaGleaner) May 14, 2019
This donation is the subject of an investigation by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency.
During an appearance before the PAC today, Myrie acknowledged, that in both cases he was merely acting as a "courier."
He had initially declined to answer a number of questions after reading from what appeared to be a prepared statement.
"I'm very much grateful for the opportunity to appear before this committee to share what information I have as I have nothing to hide. However, based on publication in the press, I am aware that this matter is now being investigated," he said.
"In that regard, the extent to which I can assist this committee is limited. I will say, however, in relation to the role I played in the matter you are investigating, I was simply a courier who was asked to pass on some information, which I did," the PCJ director added.
Added Myrie: "At this point, unfortunately, I can be of no further assistance as a result of the ongoing investigation."
He relented after PAC Chairman Mark Golding read out sections of the Senate and House of Representatives Powers and Privileges Act.
The legislation provides a fine or, in default, a prison term not exceeding twelve months at hard labour for anyone convicted for refusing to be examined or answer any lawful questions from any member of both houses.
“I only mention this to you Mr Myrie just to say that the proceedings here are serious proceedings,” Golding said.
Myrie insisted that when he forwarded the emails to Grindley, he was not acting in his capacity as a PCJ director or as an assistant to former energy minister Dr Andrew Wheatley.