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Premature adjournment in Petrojam fraud trial

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2022 | 12:12 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

The fraud trial involving two former Petrojam executives was prematurely adjourned in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court yesterday after an administrative assistant who had worked with Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh, who was expected to take the stand, was unable to proceed due to personal reasons.

Hence, the matter against Bahado-Singh, the former chairman of the state-owned refinery, and Floyd Grindley, the former general manager, was forced to an early end after Kevin Senior, a director of information systems at the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology (MSET), finished undergoing cross-examination.

Senior, who started testifying yesterday, told the court that he had retrieved an email thread with 33 emails from the account of Hilary Alexander, a former permanent secretary in the MSET, under which Petrojam falls, following a request from the current permanent secretary, Carol Palmer.

The trial heard that the emails were in relation to a technical meeting between Jamaican experts and Mexican authorities in the energy sector.

In the meantime, defence lawyer Bert Samuels took Senior to task over his reason for not signing the document that he had retrieved with Senior, which he conceded was an oversight.

Bahado-Singh and Grindley are being tried on several fraud-related charges surrounding travel allowance claims.

The former Petrojam chairman is alleged to have submitted claims amounting to US$73,620, between December 2016 and May 2018, for overseas travel he did not make.

Grindley is alleged to have aided and abetted the then chairman in that process.

Initially, Grindley was facing eight counts of aiding and abetting, obtaining money by means of false pretence, while Bahado-Singh was to answer to 12 charges related to the US$73,620 that he allegedly improperly obtained as chairman of the oil refinery.

However, they were later slapped with new charges including fraudulent conversion, aiding and abetting fraudulent conversion, conspiracy to defraud, and one count of obtaining money by false pretence.

Both men were axed in 2018 as a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal alleging irregularities, nepotism and cronyism engulfed Petrojam.

The trial resumes next Tuesday.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com