Friday, 17 February 2023 11:07

No charges to be brought against Holness from IC contract award probe

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There will be no criminal charges brought against Prime Minister Andrew Holness in relation to possible conflict of interest in the awarding of Government contracts that emerged from a probe by the Integrity Commission (IC), from which a 107-page Investigation Report was made public on Tuesday.

After all the fuss that was created by the report,including calls by the parliamentary Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) for Holness to step aside after he was referred to the IC’s Director of Corruption Prosecution, Keisha Prince-Kameka, for possible sanctions, the commission has now indicated that there will be no charges.

This is after widespread reporting on the commission’s findings and recommendations in both the local and international media.

Interestingly, Prince-Kameka arrived at her decision as far back as January 12 of this year, a full month before the IC tabled its report on the investigation into the actions of the prime minister, on February 14.

Yet, it was not until Thursday, February 16 that the IC’s Executive Director, Greg Christie, wrote to the Speaker of the House, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, and Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson, informing them that a decision had been made as far back as January 12, not to bring any charges against Holness.

The prime minister was implicated in a potential conflict of interest regarding the awarding of Government contracts to Westcon Construction Limited during the period 2006-2009.

Also implicated were two state agencies, the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).

Holness, who is the Member of Parliament for St Andrew West Central, would have been the Minister of Education from 2007 to 2009 in the then Bruce Golding-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government.

He was referred to the Director of Corruption Prosecution in the IC for consideration with respect to breaches of the Contractor General Act, the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2008, the Corruption (Prevention) Act, and/or any other applicable law.

This was in relation to the awarding of contracts totalling nearly $22 million to Westcon Construction Limited, whose directors are personally known to Holness. It was suggested that he may have influenced the awarding of contracts to the company.

Now the IC is explaining that in relation to recommendations one and two in its report, “though evidence has been identified sufficient to mount charges for the noted offences, the prosecution would be hard-pressed to resist an abuse of process application with regard to undue delay.”

Regarding recommendation three, the Director of Corruption Prosecution said the “evidence does not reveal a prima facie case with a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to the alleged offence; therefore, no criminal charges are being recommended in respect of this offence.”

Prince-Kameka said in relation to recommendations four and five, “with additional material being made available which investigations have failed to contradict or provide more evidence in support of offences contemplated, no criminal charges can be laid.

“In light of the foregoing, no charges are to be brought in support of the allegations made,” Prince-Kameka further said.