Sat | Jun 12, 2021

Privy Council reserves decision in Trafigura appeal

Published:Monday | March 1, 2021 | 12:06 PM
The court's decision will determine the next step in a case that has been stalled by legal challenges for over a decade.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has reserved judgment in the latest legal challenge filed by former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and four other People’s National Party (PNP) functionaries in the Trafigura case.

The Privy Council, based in the United Kingdom, is Jamaica’s final appellate court.

Its decision will determine the next step in a case that has been stalled by legal challenges for over a decade.

The decision to reserve judgment was announced on Monday after the panel of judges heard legal arguments from attorneys for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the five PNP functionaries.

The ODPP is Jamaica’s designated Central Authority under the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act.

The case stems from the request by authorities in The Netherlands for Simpson Miller; former PNP chairman, Robert Pickersgill; current PNP chairman, Phillip Paulwell; former general secretary, Colin Campbell; and businessman Norton Hinds to answer questions about a $31-million donation to the party in 2006 by Dutch firm Trafigura Baheer.

The donation was made while Jamaica, under the leadership of the then Simpson Miller administration, had an oil-lifting agreement with Trafigura.

Dutch firms are prohibited from making donations to foreign governments.

In 2011, Hinds began answering questions in the Supreme Court when the case was halted by a stay of proceedings granted by the Court of Appeal.

Lawyers for Simpson Miller and the other PNP functionaries challenged the decision of the presiding judge at the time, Justice Lennox Campbell, that they answer questions from Dutch authorities in open court.

Campbell's decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal following a challenge by the PNP officials.

They then applied for and were granted leave to take the matter to the privy council.

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