Tue | May 26, 2020

Chuck withdraws remarks over arrests of Reid, Pinnock and others

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:58 PM
Delroy Chuck - File photo

Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck today withdrew his utterances made following the arrest and charge of former education minister Ruel Reid and his co-accused.

Law enforcement officers yesterday swooped down on Reid’s St Andrew's house at 5:00 a.m, the same time they arrived at Caribbean Maritime University president Professor Fritz Pinnock’s Hellshire premises in Portmore, St Catherine and at the St Ann resident of Jamaica Labour Party Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence.

Reid's wife, Sharen, who is employed at CMU as Manager for Legal Affairs and their daughter Sharelle were also arrested.

The five have been charged with a range of offences including breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in a public office at common law and breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

Investigators have alleged that nearly $50 million of public funds were diverted to the personal use of Reid and Pinnock through a number of schemes, including one that mirrors the Career Advancement Programme-Youth Employment Solutions.

Reacting to the arrest, Chuck said it was unfortunate how the authorities, before dawn, descended on the accused and that the authorities seem to still not be sure of what they are looking for.

Salacious and Nicodemus were how Chuck described the pre-dawn raids that lasted for several hours, arguing that investigators should have considered a different route.

He has garnered criticism over the remarks.

In a 51-seconds audio statement this afternoon, Chuck took a different tone.

“My daughter, who is one the attorneys in the case, she and I lead separate, independent professional lives.  However, as Justice Minister, my comments were inappropriate and I duly withdraw them in their entirety,” Chuck said.

The withdrawal follows a series of public backlash for his statement including from the People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) which has called for his immediate resignation.

The PNPYO contends that the justice minister’s statements have eroded any confidence that he will not interfere with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

 “The 2002 Government of Jamaica Code governing the conduct of Ministers, Section 1 (vi) requires that Ministers ‘ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.’

“It is our firm belief that in this instance, Minister Chuck represents a classic case of conflict of interest,” a PNPYO spokesperson said in a statement this morning.

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