Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Controversy-plagued parliamentarian Everald Warmington yesterday defiantly characterised Contractor General Greg Christie as an "overzealous idiot" after the politician was implicated in misconduct in the award of government contracts.
Warmington was responding to the announcement by Christie that his office had initiated an investigation into the dealings of a construction firm allegedly owned by the member of parliament for South West St Catherine.
"I have never been a shareholder. I was a director up until 2007 and I am no longer director, and that still stands," Warmington declared when contacted by The Gleaner yesterday afternoon.
"He (Christie) is always coming up with some nonsense," Warmington added. "I am not surprised at him. That is a characteristic of the person."
A senior public servant and the St Catherine Parish Council are also in the contractor general's sights.
They are implicated in damning allegations of questionable and criminal conduct in the dispensing of multimillion-dollar government contracts to the construction company, Strathairn Construction Company Limited.
But the claims did not stop the acid-tongued politician.
"Rubbish!" declared Warmington in response to the slew of allegations.
"The company received no illicit contracts ... . Any contract it received went through a tender process," Warmington contended.
"I am above all things named corruption. I can speak my mind at all times ... because I am so outspoken, I make sure that my hands are always clean."
Christie said yesterday that the preliminary probe undertaken by his office had unearthed information which suggested the bulk of government works contracts for South West St Catherine found their way to Strathairn Construction.
The contractor general disclosed that his office had launched a probe into allegations of impropriety and irregularity in the award of certain government contracts by the St Catherine Parish Council to Strathairn.
Christie, both lauded and criticised for his forthright, proactive and controversial approach to his job as contracts watchdog, asserted that some of the allegations have already been corroborated by a preliminary enquiry undertaken by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).
He said Warmington and the senior public official had been implicated in the allegations.
Christie said the issue has raised several questions regarding possible breaches of the Government's procurement procedures, the Contractor General Act, the Financial Administration and Audit Act and the Corruption Prevention Act, among other laws.
"Formal notice of the OCG's commencement of its investigation was given under cover of letter of even date to the relevant public officials," Christie said.
The correspondence copied to Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Robert Montague, State minister with responsibility for local government, alleges that the award of certain works contracts issued by the St Catherine Parish Council for the South West St Catherine constituency may have been influenced by Warmington.
Christie said the sworn statement was given to the OCG in December 2008 and formally executed in writing in March 2009.
He also cited allegations that, although Warmington had claimed he had "resigned" from the company, he was still actively in control of the firm.
Accordingly, Christie contended that Strathairn was "Mr Warmington's company".
The OCG stated that the formal statement, which was given to it, also alleged that Warmington was, at the time, in possession and control of the chequebook for Strathairn.
"The sworn statement, which was provided to the OCG, also alleged that Mr Everald Warmington, subsequent to resigning from his post as a director in Strathairn Construction Company Limited, added the names of his sister and brother to the particulars of the company's documents," the letter stated.
"Further, the sworn statement, which was provided to the OCG, also implicated at least one senior public officer/official of the St Catherine Parish Council as having received kickbacks for his role in the improper and/or irregular award of contracts to the company."
Christie also claimed Strathairn Construction was operating from the same address as Warmington's constituency office, located at "40 East Street, Old Harbour, St Catherine".
He said the allegations were sufficient to trigger, in February 2009, an ongoing OCG preliminary enquiry.
According to Christie, the preliminary enquiry, which was conducted by the OCG into the allegations has either corroborated the veracity of some of the allegations or raised serious questions.
>> See the contractor general's statement in News Section.