KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Appeal Court a short while ago ruled that Portia Simpson Miller and four other members of the People’s National Party (PNP) are to testify in open court on the $31-million donation the party received from Dutch oil firm, Trafigura in 2006.
Simpson-Miller along with PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, Phillip Paulwell, Colin Campbell, and Norton Hinds had put forward an appeal following Justice Lennox Campbell’s ruling, in 2011, that the party officials should be questioned in open court after the DPP tried unsuccessfully to question them in private.
The five appellants were asked to answer questions regarding an investigation by the Netherlands Government into the payment made to the PNP, which was the governing party at the time, while it had an oil-lifting agreement with the country.
The money was deposited into an account named CCOC, which turned out to be the acronym for ‘Colin Campbell Our Candidate’ to which certain members of the PNP were signatories.
According to the PNP the money was a donation, but Trafigura said it was payment on a commercial transaction. The party later reported that the money was returned.
The money was transferred to the account just prior to the PNP’s annual conference that year.
LBC NEWS ANALYSIS.
The Trafigura corruption matter has been running from 2006, when the then Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Bruce Golding broke the story in dramatic fashion. It is believed to have contributed to the Peoples National Party (PNP) then led by Portia Simpson Miller, lost at the polls.
Since then the Dutch Authorities have been trying to get the main protagonist in this corruption affair to give statement in open court. The PNP through a series of legal maneuvers has tied up the case in the local courts. They contend that they then Prime Minister and others do not have to give any evidence in open court. The DPP who is prosecuting the matter on behalf of the Dutch authorities are contending differently.
With Jamaica ranking very low on the corruption indexes, this case will go some way to rehabilitate Jamaica’s image in that regard. The PNP officials who have been caught up in this matter, should have never allowed the matter to have gone so far, if they have nothing to hide. There could not have been any harm in giving statement in open court.
The PNP still have the option of appealing to the Privy Council in England, Jamaica’s final Appellate Court.