Mum on Trafigura - People's National Party (PNP officials may not speak to Dutch investigators

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Mum on Trafigura - People's National Party (PNP officials may not speak to Dutch investigators

Post by ^^Rosci^^ on Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:43 pm

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter of the Gleaner reports that:

With the spotlight off Kern Spencer, at least for now, another controversy which has followed the People's National Party (PNP) into opposition is about to return to centre stage.

The Trafigura saga, which has already led to the resignation of one senior member of the PNP, will be back in focus this week as Dutch investigators return to the island.

Team in Jamaica

The Dutch team flew into Kingston yesterday afternoon to question senior PNP members about the transfer of $31 million from Trafigura to an account controlled by the party's then general secretary, Colin Campbell.

But yesterday a senior PNP official told The Gleaner that the questioning might not take place.

Initially, lawyers representing the PNP had expressed concerns about the scope of the investigation and instructed their clients not to meet with the Dutch investigators.

But last month, the lawyers told the investigators that their clients were now ready to answer their questions.

This prompted the investigators to hurry back to Jamaica, with the questioning expected to take place over the next two days.

However, a PNP source yesterday claimed that while the questioning had been agreed on, "other developments" could cause the party officials not to make themselves available.

The source refused to provide any information or explanation of these "other developments", instead directed The Gleaner to attorney-at-law K.D. Knight who is representing the PNP team.

Knight confirmed that he had been retained to represent the group but was not willing to provide any other information.

The former government minister also refused to confirm or deny the claim that his clients might pull out of the scheduled questioning.

PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, Chairman Robert Pickersgill and Campbell are among those expected to face the investigators.

They were among the major players in the party when the money was transferred from the oil trader Trafigura in what the PNP said was a donation.

Under pressure from a public which was incensed over reports that Trafigura had an exclusive lucrative contract to lift oil from Nigeria on behalf of Jamaica, the PNP said it returned the money while denying any wrongdoing.

Criminal investigation

That did not stop the Dutch authorities who last year started a criminal investigation involving Trafigura.

According to the Dutch authorities, Trafigura could be guilty of having bribed public officials in Jamaica.

Bribery is punishable under Dutch law and the National Public Prosecutor's Office of The Netherlands is pursuing the investigation.
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