Sat | May 26, 2018

Trafigura matter back in court

Published:Sunday | November 13, 2011 | 12:00 AM
A Trafigura-chartered ship accused of offloading toxic waste along the Ivory Coast's shoreline. - File

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Dutch representatives are arriving in Jamaica this weekend for tomorrow's court battle surrounding the controversial contribution of $30 million by the oil-lifting firm, Trafigura Beheer, to the then governing People's National Party (PNP), which erupted into a major political scandal in the lead-up to the 2007 general election.

The PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will, tomorrow, renew this five-year-old Trafigura battle at the Supreme Court.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will represent the Dutch authorities, while lawyers representing PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, who is being asked to testify in court, will be challenging with a constitutional motion.

K.D. Knight, Simpson Miller's lawyer, will be asking the court to throw out the matter because the constitutional rights of his clients, who are citizens of Jamaica, were ignored by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

'Politically instigated'

"We are submitting that his action was politically instigated. The letter he wrote was aimed more at getting at his political opponent than Trafigura Beheer," Knight told The Sunday Gleaner.

After a series of adjournments, this will be the first time that the matter will be heard in the Supreme Court since the controversy erupted. At the time of the donation, Simpson Miller was prime minister of Jamaica.

In 2006, Trafigura was accused by the Bruce Golding-led Opposition of illegally making a $30-million donation to the PNP. The party's general secretary at the time, Colin Campbell, was also implicated in the transaction and forced to resign.

He told The Sunday Gleaner that he has filed a constitutional motion in court challenging Golding's action.

Knight added: "If it is that there was a suspicion of criminal act on the part of Jamaican officials, it is within the province of the Jamaican police to investigate, who, after five years, have not done so."

Charging that Golding was driven by political motivation, Knight argued that nothing has been heard of in respect of an investigation against Trafigura Beheer in Holland.

"This points to mud-raking," he declared. "In the process, the constitutional rights of the Jamaican citizens were either forgotten by Golding or ignored. It now befalls us as lawyers involved to protect its citizens."

Golding had dispatched a bulky document asking the Dutch National Investigation Unit to undertake a probe into Trafigura's payment to the PNP.

"In my capacity as the leader of the parliamentary opposition of Jamaica, I hereby request your office to investigate and determine if and/or to what extent the payment of €466,000 to CCOC Association, one of the principals of Mr Colin Campbell, a minister of the Government of Jamaica, by Trafigura B.V. Amsterdam contravenes:

  • Dutch law relating to contributions to political parties;
  • The OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials;
  • OECD guidelines for multi-national enterprises."

Subsequently, a legal assistance request was directed to the Jamaican authorities to hear from persons who are expected to give evidence in the criminal investigations into Trafigura operations in respect of the $30 million.

Under the arrangement, persons believed to be materially involved but have refused to give voluntary evidence will be forced to do so in a court of law, in which case the director of public prosecutions, under the treaty, is expected to bring subpoenas and prosecution.

In this case, attention will be focused on Simpson Miller, Campbell and possibly others.

In his statement, Golding claimed that early in August 2006, Campbell, who was minister of information and development, and Phillip Paulwell, who was minister of industry, technology, energy and commerce, under whose portfolio this matter falls, met with undisclosed executives of Trafigura in New York.

Golding also told Dutch authorities that on August 23, Charles Dauphin, president of Trafigura, arrived in Jamaica and met with government ministers, including Paulwell, Campbell and Simpson Miller. He said no public announcement of these meetings was made to the people of Jamaica.

Funds transferred from UK

He stated that in early September 2006, between September 6 and 12, prior to the PNP's annual conference, Trafigura transferred €466,000 or more than J$31 million from its account in the United Kingdom to an account in Jamaica known as CCOC Association.

"The address provided by CCOC Association is c/o Portmore Gas, Bridgeport, St Catherine ... . One of the signatories on this account is Senator Colin Campbell, general secretary of the PNP and a minister of government having portfolio responsibility for information and development."

The document stated that shortly after the funds were received into the account, two cheques totalling $30 million were issued payable to SW Services (Team Jamaica), both bearing Campbell's signatures.

Golding noted that on Thursday, October, 2006, the chairman of the PNP, Robert Pickersgill, confirmed payment of the funds by Trafigura and described it as an unsolicited donation to the PNP for its upcoming political campaign.

The Gleaner was also shown a letter which Pickersgill wrote to Trafigura Beheer explaining that it was in the best interest in both organisations to return the donation.