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Jamaican Officials on trial for US$73,000 fraud at Petrojam oil refinery – Kaieteur News

Petrojam oil refinery in Jamaica (Jamaica Observer)

Kaieteur News

EnergiesNet.com 12 06 2022

Two former senior officials of Petrojam Limited, Jamaica’s only petroleum refinery, are on trial for falsely acquiring over US$73,000 from that company.

The company’s former General Manager, Floyd Grindley, and Chairman, Dr. Percival Bahado-Singh, were charged for fraudulently obtaining US$73,620 from travel claims submitted to the agency between December 2016 and May 2018.

According to reports, Bahado-Singh submitted the claims for overseas travel which he did not attend while Grindley is alleged to have aided and abetted him in the process.

A report from the Jamaica Gleaner in May said that 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 sums he improperly obtained as Chairman of the oil refinery.

The men were later slapped with additional charges involving fraudulent conversion, aiding and abetting, 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 the state-run oil refinery.

One of the accusations is that in 2018 the Chairman missed a London business trip but nonetheless made financial claims. This was revealed during the trial in May, where the Chairman’s defence also sought to highlight that the purpose for the former official missing the foreign engagement was because of an urgent meeting called by that country’s Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology with regards to a tender for insurance valued at millions of US dollars for Petrojam.

However, the Jamaican Prosecutors are contending that the one-week trip which was scheduled for February 25 to March 3 is among a batch of the overseas expeditions that the Chairman made claims for but did not attend.

When the fraud case continued last Wednesday in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, it was revealed that four years after his departure from Petrojam, the refinery’s former General Manager, Grindley, was still able to access the entity’s bank account valued at over US$18 million.

The revelation was made when the Executive’s lawyer cross examined the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Delroy Brown, who is a witness in the fraud trial.

Both the Chairman and General Manager have declared their innocence in the charges against them.

The multimillion-dollar corruption scandal, allegations of nepotism and cronyism had caused the Jamaican Government to launch an investigation into what was occurring at the only state-owned oil refinery.

In wake of a report which recommended, among other things, the transfer of management of the state-owned oil refinery to the private sector, the country’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness had called on the Jamaican people to decide of the future of the business. He told the Jamaican public that they would be made aware and have a say in what the Government does with the oil refinery.

“I am always listening to what the public is saying and stakeholder groups. We will gauge public opinion, engage the public in this conversation and then we make a decision,” Holness said during a Press Conference at Jamaica House in 2019. He said then that he would allow for a period of public discourse then the Cabinet would consider the ventilated matter and come to a decision.

Last year, the Jamaican Observer reported that there is consensus for “the scandal-riddled State oil refinery Petrojam” to become a public-private partnership said the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz.

He told the country’s House of Representatives that, “The public perspectives revealed the strategic importance of Petrojam’s assets to the country. However, there was the consensus for the establishment of a public-private partnership, in terms of the preferred strategic direction of Petrojam’s operations.”

The report on Petrojam had offered that transfer of the management of the state-owned oil refinery to the private sector “provides the only credible opportunity to improve operating performance”. The Jamaican Government said earlier this year that the report regarding the privatization of the oil refinery is still being deliberated on by Cabinet.

kaieteurnewsonline.com 12 03 2022

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