Integrity Commission denies wrong doing in matter involving PM Holness

Integrity Commission denies wrong doing in matter involving PM Holness

The Jamaican Integrity Commission (IC) on Friday said it has taken note of some comments that have been made by various individuals and groups in respect of the report of the Commission’s Director of Investigation and the ruling of the Director of Corruption Prosecution, in the matter of Westcon Construction Limited.

“The Integrity Commission Act requires that where, in a report to the Commission, the Director of Investigation is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that there has been a breach of a code of conduct by a public officer or parliamentarian, or where there is suspicion that an act of corruption or an offence under the Act has been committed, the Commission shall submit the report to Parliament for tabling.”

The IC said that there is no provision in the Act mandating the tabling of a ruling by the Director of Corruption Prosecution.

“Notwithstanding that there is no provision for the tabling of a Ruling, the Commission has taken the position that in the interest of full and early disclosure, such a Ruling ought to be communicated to Parliament, and the public advised.”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has challenged the Integrity Commission’s report, which implies conflict of interest on his part, in relation to the awarding of contracts to close associates when he was Minister of Education 14 to 16 years ago.

He has not only insisted that he did nothing wrong, but said the matter has been referred to his lawyers.

“I strongly disagree with some of the findings of the report and have referred it to my lawyers. I strongly reject any suggestion or insinuation of wrongdoing and I will do all in my power to ensure that the truth is known,” the Prime Minister said.

In the 107-page report which was laid in Parliament on Tuesday, the Integrity Commission said it had referred the matter to the director of corruption prosecution for consideration with respect to breaches of the Contractor General Act in relation to contracts awarded to Westcon Construction Limited between February 2007 and November 2009.

Westcon’s directors were Robert Garvin and Donovan Simpson, both of whom Holness admitted to knowing for more than 20 years although he said only Garvin is known to him “personally”.

According to the commission, Westcon was awarded 10 contracts through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, totalling J$21.8 million, but only five were reported to the Office of the Contractor General by way of the ministry’s quarterly contract award (QCA) reports for the period.


Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, has called on Prime Minister Holness to take a leave of absence amid the fallout from the damning report about potential conflict of interest.

But in a letter to House Speaker Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert and Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson, dated January 12 this year, Director of Corruption Prosecution Keisha Prince-Kameka said though there is sufficient evidence to mount charges for the noted offences, the prosecution would be hard-pressed to resist an abuse of process application as it relates to undue delay.

In a lengthy statement on Friday, the Integrity Commission said the Ruling of the Director of Corruption Prosecution in a matter where a report has been sent to Parliament, cannot be communicated to anyone before the report has been tabled.

“This is so by virtue of Section 53(3) of the Integrity Commission Act which states that “until the tabling of a report in Parliament, all matters under investigation by the Director of Investigation or any other person involved in such investigation shall be kept confidential and no report or public statement shall be made by the Commission or any other person in relation to the initiation or conduct of (the) investigation”.

The IC said that in this case, the report having been sent to the Director of Corruption Prosecution, as required by the law, she submitted her Ruling dated 12 January 2023, to the Commission and that the Commissioners, “not having had the opportunity to read, understand and discuss it, took time to do so.”

The IC said that the report was sent to Parliament and was tabled on February 14 with confirmation being communicated to the Commission a day later.

“The Commission’s review of the Ruling, having been finalised, instruction was given on the said 15 February 2023 for it to be published, and the publication was done on 16 February 2023. It is worth repeating and stressing that publication of the Ruling could not be done before or simultaneously with the report. It had to await the tabling of the report. That is the law as crafted by Parliament and referred to earlier.”

The IC said it wished to “stress” that the Integrity Commission Act makes the various directors independent of each other, outlining the various roles of the directors.

“The Integrity Commission wishes to assure the public that it takes its task seriously. It rejects any assertion that there has been any misstep in the proceedings. In all matters under the Commission’s purview, every effort is made to follow the provisions of the law strictly. The Ruling of the Director of Corruption Prosecution in a matter does not change the content of the report of the Director of Investigation. They are independent in their operations.”

It reminded the public that the Director of Investigation and the Director of Corruption Prosecution are given separate and distinct roles under the Integrity Commission Act.

“One investigates, reports and recommends; the other rules on what is recommended. The Commissioners reviewed the Director of Investigation’s report and saw no reason to distant ourselves from it,” the statement added.

The statement also sought to advise the public that the executive director of the Commission “has no control over the content of an investigation report or a ruling”.

  • PublishedFebruary 18, 2023

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