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KINGSTON — Former Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Karl Blythe, has suggested that some of his political colleagues may have benefited from "insider trading", in terms of how their debts were handled during the 1990s financial sector meltdown.

Dr. Blythe told the FINSAC Enquiry on Thursday July 21, that there was a need for the Commission to enquire into what loans were written off during the period between the failure of the banks and their takeover by the Government-owned Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC), and up to the time of their sale to the American-owned Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation (JRF).

“For some reason, some debts could have been written off while coming from the bank to FINSAC. If that was so then that could be dangerous, because it could be like insider trading, (where) we know what was happening so we settled our matters. I hope it was not so,” Dr. Blythe told the Commission.

“Insider Trading” is the American term for the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one's own advantage, through having access to confidential information

Dr. Blythe said, however, that the loans that were settled at FINSAC must have been recorded, and be available for the Commissioners to see those records and check which politicians were given write-offs, and what levels of write-offs they were given.

Dr. Blythe numbered himself among another group of politicians who approached FINSAC for “certain considerations” towards outstanding debts for themselves and their families, but were refused assistance.  He said, however, that he was not surprised, after being told by the founder of the Jamaican Redevelopment Foundation (JRF), the late Dennis Joslin, in 2002 that his debts were to be treated differently.                                                  

Dr.Blythe told the Commission last week that he had been advised by Mr. Joslin that: “The value of your assets being held as security is much higher than the debt, and I cannot convince my principals to write off any part of your debt, even the interest”; and, “Furthermore, I have been instructed that when it comes to any adjustments in your debts, the Ministry of Finance as well as FINSAC would have to agree."

“I am saying to the Commission that they have a right to see what was the debt of all Minister and MPs, from the last two years leading up to FINSAC, as well as when they were turned over FINSAC, as well as when they were turned over to the JRF,” Dr. Blythe said Thursday.

“I am saying to the Commission, if you examine them, there is no doubt that, as far as I know today, Karl Blythe’s is the only politician whose debt remains on the book with full consideration of interest, principal and fees,” he said.

                                                                          

By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor