Fri | Feb 15, 2019

Dutch want truth

Published:Tuesday | November 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A SUPREME Court order has been granted instructing some members of the People's National Party (PNP), including its president, Portia Simpson Miller, to respond on oath to questions relating to the 2006 Trafigura affair.

Dutch authorities are currently conducting an intensive investigation into the matter.

PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill and former government minister Colin Campbell are reported to be among those listed on the court order, which was granted last week.

Checks revealed that up to yesterday, they had not yet been served with the court order.

The application was made last week in chambers under the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act by lawyers from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Dutch investigators want the parties to respond truthfully to questions that have been prepared for them to answer.

The probe relates to a multi-million-dollar donation to the PNP by Dutch oil-trading company Trafigura Beheer.

Trafigura has, as a result, come under scrutiny in the Netherlands, as such donations to political parties are against the law there.

Campbell was at the centre of the scandal in which the then governing PNP received a $31-million donation from Trafigura in 2006 while the company had an oil-lifting agreement with Jamaica.

In the midst of the controversy, Campbell was forced to resign as information minister.

On August 23, the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) wrote to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn asking that she determine whether Campbell was a person associated with private bodies obligated to respond to an OCG requisition. The former government minister had failed to answer some questions put to him during a special probe.

However, in October, Llewellyn handed down a ruling in which she decided not to mount criminal charges against Campbell in relation to the Trafigura scandal.

The OCG wanted Campbell to be charged under the Contractor General Act for obstructing and hindering its probe into the matter.

The DPP was also asked to decide whether there was sufficient material in the OCG's report to form the basis for the matter to be referred to the police for further investigation.

Llewellyn said it was her view that Campbell did not provide responses to questions eight to 10 of the requisitions from the OCG dated October 26, 2006. She found that Campbell had no lawful justification or excuse for not providing the responses.

In so doing, he had, on the face of the legislation, obstructed and hindered the contractor general in the execution of his functions in relation to this investigation, Llewellyn found.

But the DPP said there was no independent material, possibly from Trafigura Beheer or from the Dutch authorities, that clearly contradicted Campbell's position that the donation was not linked to the Nigerian oil-trading agreement, or that Campbell was trying to cover up any matters.

According to Llewellyn, there must be proof of criminal intention to commit an act for her to mount a viable prosecution.