Former NWA CEO says sorry for conflict of interest
Former chief executive officer of the National Works Agency (NWA), Patrick Wong, has apologised for his 'role' in a business arrangement between his son and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) which was the main contractor on the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).
A forensic audit of the project has found that Wong provided assistance/advice to his son, Patrick Russell, who was contracted by CHEC to provide legal service.
"Although we found no evidence of a direct conflict of interest, there is a perception of a conflict," said the auditors in the final report submitted to Parliament recently.
Wong told The Gleaner that he meant no harm and was merely extending a fatherly hand to his son with no ulterior motive.
"My son was hired by China Harbour as an international lawyer to assist them with their business and my only involvement, and I probably shouldn't have, he asked me to take a look at his proposed contract and give him some comments," said Wong.
"As a father to a son, I am very proud that my children come to me for personal and professional advice. They do this every day, so it did not dawn on me that I should have taken off my father's hat and said 'No, son, this time you need to speak to someone else about this'."
Acting as a dad
Wong said when contacted by his son, he responded as he had done on previous occasions when his children sought his personal and professional advice.
"I do apologise if there was any perception, but that was not the intent. As a father I just responded," he said.
Wong argued that his son did not work on the NWA projects.
"However, in hindsight, I would follow the recommendations as laid down by the report and take off my 'father hat' and put on the 'CEO hat', so that is as far as that issue goes."