The former financial controller at Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) yesterday gave evidence that in August 2007, the state-owned company discovered invoices seeking payments totalling $153 million related to the Cuban light-bulb programme.
Henoy Russell, former PCJ financial controller, said the invoices were discovered shortly after PCJ had gone overbudget and paid out $114 million between July 2006 and August 2007 to companies that had provided goods and services for the project.
Russell, who was testifying at the corruption trial involving former junior minister, Kern Spencer, said the new invoices came "mainly from UMD (Universal Management and Development Company).
He testified that between July 2006 and August 2007, the PCJ issued 21 cheques drawn on 31 payment vouchers to UMD, which was also one of the suppliers paid from the $114 million.
Former accused-turned-star-Crown witness, Rodney Chin, has testified that he acted as a frontman for Spencer when he established a number of companies, including UMD, that allegedly benefited improperly from the light-bulb programme.
Chin said the former junior energy minister approached him to set up UMD on the grounds that he wanted to help people set up small businesses.
However, Russell told the court that PCJ was unable to honour the $153 million worth of invoices because they were not verified for payment and, by then, the project had gone overbudget.
The light-bulb programme was introduced in 2006 and involved the distribution of four million free compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) islandwide. The CFLs were donated to Jamaica by the Cuban government.
Spencer and his former personal assistant, Colleen Wright, are on trial for illicit enrichment and money laundering arising from implementation of the programme.
The court also heard evidence from Marcia Sibbles, PCJ's human resource manager, that Wright was being paid by the state-owned agency to work as Spencer's personal assistant.