The Gleaner

Four Petrojam staff to face charges over statutory declarations

Kimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter

THE INTEGRITY Commission (IC) has recommended that four Petrojam employees be charged for failing to file their 2019 statutory declarations.

The agency’s director of corruption prosecution, Keisha Prince Kameka, concluded that the employees of the stateowned oil refinery breached Section 43(1) (a) of the Integrity Commission Act.

Her rulings and the results of four IC investigative reports were tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. They were submitted a week ago.

Prince Kameka’s recommendations to charge Sheryll Blair, administrative assistant; Sydney Brown, terminal technician; Michael Wilkinson, process engineer; and Wayne Salmon, customer service representative, followed a referral from Director of Investigation Kevon Stephenson.

Stephenson conducted four separate investigations into the employees’ failure “without reasonable cause” to declare their assets.

The investigations were launched based on referrals by Director of Information and Complaints Craig Beresford, which were received in March 2022.

The four are public officials whose emoluments total more than $3.5 million annually.

The director of investigation said the four, who failed to meet the filing deadline, were served notices in November 2020 to file within 30 days after receipt.

Having failed to comply, the 18-page reports said that notices to discharge liability were served in February 2021.

The employees were given 30 days to pay the fixed penalty to the Tax Administration Jamaica and submit the outstanding statutory declaration to the commission. To date, they have “failed to comply with the referenced notices, in any respect”.

Under the Integrity Commission Act, persons who fail to file their statutory declarations commit an offence and are liable on summary conviction in a parish court to a fine not exceeding $500,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months.

The court may make an order mandating the person to comply with the requirement in respect of which the offence was committed.

Stephenson said that the employees were given every opportunity to comply in the first instance. Having not complied, he said, they were given the option to discharge their liabilities by way of paying the fixed penalty, neither of which was utilised by them.

“Based on the foregoing, the director of investigation finds in all of the circumstances of [these] cases, that a referral to the director of corruption prosecution is justifiable,” Stephenson said in his report.

House Speaker Juliet Holness ruled earlier this month that investigation reports from the IC would be tabled “as soon as possible” after submission to Parliament.

She also ruled that special and annual reports of the commission would be referred to the Integrity Commission Oversight Committee for deliberations first, and then tabled later with the committee’s report.

The controversial ruling has since been challenged by the parliamentary Opposition and civil society.





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