Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
THE WAY is now clear for the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to seek assistance from Jamaica to investigate and recover millions of United States dollars allegedly donated by Olint to both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP).
Convicted fraudster and former head of Olint, the collapsed US multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, David Smith, had reportedly donated US$5 million to the JLP and US$2 million to the PNP during the 2007 general election.
Yesterday, the Senate passed the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) (Designated Commonwealth States) (Amendment) Order, 2012, which facilitates mutual legal assistance between Jamaica and five other British dependent states in the Caribbean, including the TCI.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, in a statement to the Upper House, noted that Cabinet approved the mutual assistance order before the confiscation order was made against Smith in the Supreme Court of the TCI. The order was issued on April 25, 2012.
Senator Golding told The Gleaner yesterday that the passage of the order would "enable them (TCI) to utilise the mutual assistance framework."
approved mutual assistance
While speaking in the Senate, the justice minister noted that Cabinet approved a submission for the mutual assistance order on April 23, this year, two days before the Supreme Court in the British dependent state issued its confiscation order against the convicted Olint boss.
"Notwithstanding becoming aware of the confiscation order, this Government is determined not to put the interests of our party ahead of the interests of the country."
He argued that despite admitting that it received funds from Olint and that it was conducting an investigation into the US$5-million donation, to date, the JLP has not provided any specific information on the results of its probe.
He said the PNP, which acknowledged that it received US$1 million had formally requested that the government of the TCI provide whatever evidence it might have in this regard.
However, leader of opposition business in the Senate, Arthur Williams, accused the justice minister of playing politics by commenting on the donations by Olint to the political parties.
"I regret that the statement was given in such a way as to make it into a political issue by speaking about the parties which we don't normally do in this House," Senator Williams commented.
Responding to the claim, Golding said the two political parties were mentioned because the matter had attracted "high interest" in the media. He said he felt it appropriate to deal with that issue in his statement to the Senate given the timing of the Cabinet submission and subsequent approval by Cabinet and the confiscation order which arrived two days after.