KINGSTON — Former Century National boss, Don Crawford, Tuesday June 7 blamed orchestrated threats against his life for his exile in the United States since 1996.
Mr. Crawford claimed that he was cheated and fraudulently robbed of all his assets, and forced into involuntary exile because of the threats.
“By all intents and purposes, were it not for God, I would have been dead a long time ago. That was the obvious intent of the 5 motorcycle gunmen, all dressed in black who stormed my house,” Mr. Crawford informed the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry about a 1996 attack on his home in Kingston which, he said, the police were convinced had “political backing and support”.
His statement was an obvious response to public perception that he fled Jamaica after committing fraud, during the 1990s financial sector meltdown, which is at the core of the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. He made his appearance before the Commission via videoconferencing from his current home, Georgia, U.S.A.
Mr. Crawford also suggested that there could have beenan intent by the “judiciary of Jamaica, working in tandem with the Government of the day”, to destroy his family through a 1996 Mareva Injunction, which froze all personal and business assets of his family, without any provision for living and legal expenses.
He said that, except for a few months when under a variation of the Order he was allowed J$100,000 per month, he was forced to exhaust all his family’s resources in the first year of exile, with legal his expenses alone exceeding US$1.2 million.
“I spent the next ten years borrowing from friends, until their generosity and resources were themselves depleted. Then I spent the last four living like an urchin, begging and crawling on my knees to stay in my family house, although I cannot pay the mortgage, enduring biting cold in winter and frying in the scorching heat in summer, because I cannot afford to pay for the heat in winter nor the air-condition in summer,” Mr. Crawford told the Commission.
“Only the very basic of foods I have been able to scavenge; hefty medical bills incurred by my dependent family have had to be ignored, and all as the indignity to which I have been subjected continue to take its toll,” he said.
He noted that, while he and his family lead marginalised lives in the United States, “political predators in Jamaica feast lavishly on the products of the blood, sweat and tears of my entire family."
He said that he was, effectively, rendered incapable of attracting the calibre of legal representation that would have been able to match “the generously connected attorneys for the Government and FINSAC who were paid with taxpayer’s money and/or from much of my frozen assets which were disbursed scandalously”.
Mr. Crawford also accused the Commission of Enquiry of failing to support his efforts to appear before them, to give his side of the story.
“One would have thought that in the interest of transparency and even a vague attempt at a display of justice, that no expense would have been too great to have Jamaica and the world at last hear Don Crawford’s truth. But that has not been the case,” he said.
He said that while millions were being spent on the enquiry, the Commission refused to foot the US$3,000-US$5,000 bill for him to come to Jamaica to appear in person, forcing him to scrape funds to pay for his videoconferencing appearance.
“But, convinced that this is my last straw, with the help of faithful friends, I drew on every last non-financial resource at my disposal to appear before your honours,” he told commissioners Worrick Bogle and Charles Ross.
Mr. Crawford, however, needs more time, as due to technical difficulties his televised appearance was delayed by some two hours. His examination by his attorney, Anthony Levy, is incomplete, but it wasn’t clear who would pay for his second appearance, as Mr. Crawford said he was not even sure if he would still have a home by today.
The enquiry is scheduled to resume on June 21 but, if there is a need for Mr. Crawford to re-appear before then, it will be accommodated, Commission chairman, Worrick Bogle, said.
By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter