Preventing former Petrojam execs from travelling would have been ‘grossly unfair’, says attorney

Attorney Bert Samuels is arguing that it would have been “grossly unfair” had the court not granted approval for former Petrojam Chairman Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh and former General Manager Floyd Grindley to travel overseas, given that the men pose no flight risks.

“We approached the court this morning [yesterday] and asked the court to review the restriction on travel and the court yielded to our application. They did find that they had come to Jamaica voluntarily from the United States and they are resident in the United States and have their jobs to protect, and it would be grossly unfair, where they are zero flight risks, for the court to take away their travel opportunities. So the court restored their travel documents to them,” Samuels outlined.

Bahado-Singh and Grindley were arrested and charged on separate occasions this month following investigations by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) into allegations of corruption at the State-owned oil refinery which surfaced in 2018.

The men had appeared before Chief Parish Court Judge Chester Crooks on Wednesday for the first time.

“Their bail amounts were to be increased to $2 million because they came to court on a $400,000 bail bond and the court was minded to take their travel documents and did take their travel documents,” Samuels told the Jamaica Observer yesterday following the men’s second appearance before the court.

He said the bail bond for the men has, however, been increased and is now $8 million.

In respect of Bahado-Singh, MOCA said he had been arrested and charged with 12 counts of obtaining money by means of false pretence. The agency alleged that between December 2016 and May 2018, Bahado-Singh claimed several reimbursements and was paid monies by Petrojam for overseas business trips that he did not attend. MOCA said the claims over the period amounted to US$73,620.

The State agency said it conducted a thorough multi-jurisdictional investigation into the allegations against Bahado-Singh and prepared and submitted a file to the director of public prosecutions, who ruled that criminal charges be filed.

Yesterday, Samuels said that Bahado-Singh “as a matter of principle, two years ago, long before he was charged, decided that all funds that were paid to him he would refund them”.

In regard to Grindley, MOCA announced that it had arrested and charged him with eight counts of aiding and abetting obtaining money by means of false pretence. According to MOCA, the alleged offences were committed between December 2016 and May 2018 in relation to several reimbursements amounting to US$73,620.

MOCA said over the period it conducted a thorough multi-jurisdictional investigation into the allegations, prepared and submitted a file to the director of public prosecutions, who ruled that criminal charges be filed.

Grindley, who was interviewed in the presence of his attorney, was subsequently arrested and charged.

A 2018 audit of Petrojam and review of its parent company, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, painted a picture of a free-for-all at the oil refinery where millions of dollars were paid out for contracts awarded in breach of the Government’s procurement rules and the company’s internal policies.

The audit also pointed to “explicit acts of nepotism” at both entities and deficiencies in their human resource recruitment and management practices.

The scandal also led to the resignation of then Minister of Science and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley from the Andrew Holness Cabinet in 2018.

The matter is set for mention on May 14.

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