Abort LNG project - OCG
Debbie-Ann.Wright, Assistant News Editor
The Office of the Contractor General (OCG), says its investigation into the award of a contract in relation to government’s proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project has uncovered glaring irregularities which require criminal investigation.
The investigation related to the emergence of the Exmar Consortium as the preferred bidder for the construction of a floating storage and re-gasification unit for LNG.
The OCG said the entire tender process for the project has been compromised, brought into disrepute and tainted by a conflict of interest and a gross lack of objectivity and impartiality.
Based on these findings, the OCG has recommended that the current tender process be immediately aborted and a new OCG supervised and scrutinized process undertaken by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and the energy ministry.
Contractor General, Greg Christie said he has also referred his findings to the Commissioner of police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal investigation to be undertaken into the matter.
In his 609-page report, Christie said Exmar was placed at a distinct advantage based on its prior sharing of information with project coordinator, Stephen Wedderburn and former chairman of the PCJ, Ian Moore.
He said as early as 2007, when the government was more intent on coal as an alternative energy source, Exmar appeared to be instrumental in attempts to influence the government to move toward LNG.
He said based on certain email correspondence it appears there was a working relationship between Exmar Marine, Wedderburn and Moore.
Christie said in the correspondence, all parties were privy to information on LNG and it appears that they were collectively working to introduce LNG in Jamaica.
The OCG said there was a conflict of interest and a gross lack of objectivity in the tender process, because of Wedderburn’s prior associations with certain named contractors, and his demonstrated bias towards Exmar Marine.
The contractor general also noted that two of the parties who were privy to the referenced correspondence, namely, Ian Moore and a Conrad Kerr, subsequently formed Caribbean LNG seven months after Moore demitted office.
Caribbean LNG is a part of the Exmar Consortium.
In addition, Christie noted that the Framework for Review and Evaluation of Proposals was never circulated to potential bidders, which would have helped them in developing their bids.
Christie wants the police and DPP to investigate whether Moore and Wedderburn used their public offices in a fraudulent manner to elicit benefits for themselves, Caribbean LNG or Exmar consortium through the irregular use of insider information or preferential treatment towards Exmar.