Wed | Jan 26, 2022

Wildman confident CMU case will crumble at judicial review

Published:Friday | January 24, 2020 | 12:37 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Hugh Wildman addressing the media.
Hugh Wildman addressing the media.

Hugh Wildman, the attorney representing president of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) Fritz Pinnock in his corruption case, yesterday expressed optimism in the St Andrew Parish Court that his client would be vindicated on February 10. That is when the Judicial Review Court will hear his challenge to the ruling by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, dismissing his application to quash the charges against his client.

Wildman maintained that the Financial Investigations Division (FID) had no authority to charge his client.

Pinnock, former Education Minister Ruel Reid, his wife Sharen, their daughter Sharelle, and councillor for the Brown’s Town division Kim Brown Lawrence, are charged with several fraud and corruption offences in relation to transactions involving the CMU.

Last month, Sykes, in dismissing the application to quash the charges, said there was no evidence that the FID had either arrested or prosecuted anyone in the fraud case.

However, the judge raised questions about the validity of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of National Security and the FID on which the prosecution had based one element of its case.

When Pinnock and his co-accused appeared in the Corporate Area Parish Court yesterday, Wildman reiterated his declaration that the FID had no power to bring criminal charges against any person in Jamaica and then attempted to outline the case in its entirety. However, the presiding judge directed him to present the submission in writing to the Crown and the court.

The accused are to return to the Corporate Area Parish Court on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

In the meantime, chief parish judge, Justice Chester Crooks, has varied the bail conditions of the accused.

They should now report to the respective police stations on Wednesdays instead of Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The defence argued that the order to report twice weekly was proving onerous for the accused.

After initially opposing the request, Crown Counsel Yanique Gardener-Brown relented.

The observations raised by the court regarding the MOU between the FID and the Ministry of National Security

- There is no evidence that the Minister gave approval to the CTD (chief technical director) to enter into the MOU.

- Second, the MOU had a life of one year from July 17, 2013 which means that the MOU expired on July 17, 2014.

- Third, the MOU states that officers of the CFU will be designated as authorized officers under section 2 of FID.

· Fourth, there is no evidence that the police officers were so designated by the CP (Commissioner of Police).