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KINGSTON — The Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC) says it is awaiting advice from the Attorney General’s Department on how to respond to a new appeal for leniency from former Century National Bank (CNB) boss, Don Crawford.

In a statement on Tuesday July 12, 2011, General Manager of FINSAC, Errol Campbell, reiterated that following representations from Mr. Crawford, the matter has been referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers for advice.

Mr. Campbell said that Mr. Crawford had made a number of representations to FINSAC and the previous Government for leniency, or assistance with medical bills on humanitarian grounds for his ailing mother who is over 90 years old.

“These were not approved, in view of the Court Orders obtained for the sale of the properties,” he told the FINSAC Commission of Enquiry meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.  However, he said similar representations have since been made to the current Government and FINSAC, which have been referred to the Attorney General.

Mr. Campbell said that, following enquiries from the Commission of Enquiry, the FINSAC files were reviewed. They confirmed that representations were made, from as early as 2006 by Mr. Crawford’s attorney, that based on the age and health of his mother, consideration should be given to granting her a lifetime interest in her residence.

“This was not agreed, but she was allowed to continue occupying the house for a further three months, as this would not unduly affect the timetable for the proposed sale of the properties, bearing in mind the sale process,” he stated.

Mr. Campbell pointed out that in 2005, the Privy Council upheld a decision of the Jamaican Courts for Mr. Crawford to pay the Financial Institutions Services Limited (FIS), forerunner of FINSAC, $2.8 billion in principal and interest for unsecured loans made ahead of Century's collapse in the mid-1990s. Subsequently, FINSAC obtained a Court Order for sale of various properties owned by Mr. Crawford and connected parties.

He told the Commission that FINSAC has already raised $339 million from the sale of real estate and other assets, including a 1931 Buick motor car, owned by Mr. Crawford. The figure did not include proceeds from the sale of connected companies like Blue Cross of Jamaica, sold for US$3 million, and the Jamaica Grande Hotel, sold for US$37.5 million. FINSAC is also seeking to sell 30 more prime real-estate properties and three vintage motor cars seized from Crawford.

In his statement to the Commission on June 7, Mr. Crawford claimed, “It is widely rumoured that the Prime Minister (Golding) has been warned that any attempt to extend even humanitarian assistance to myself and my 91-year old mother would be seen as a deliberate breach of court orders”.  However, he invited the Prime Minister to expose the warning to the scrutiny of impartial legal counsel, as well as to the weight of precedent.

Mr. Crawford also expressed appreciation to former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, whom he said had expressed an intention to “right whatever wrongs committed against him, “to ensure that, in her words, one of Jamaica’s finest sons was not treated like a total outcast”.

“As I understood her voluntary commitments, had she had just a little more time in office, she would have flexed her executive muscles to do what was fair and just for me,” he told the enquiry.

He said that the authority on which the Government could act was “well understood and appreciated” in the highest of legal circles. He quoted former Senator, Alfred Rattray, expressing in a letter to FINSAC’s former head, Patrick Hylton, that the existence of a judgment in no way precludes a settlement, and “must not be used as justification for victimization and oppression”.

The enquiry resumes on Thursday, when former People’s National Party (PNP) Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Karl Blythe, will give evidence.

                                                                            

By BALFORD HENRY, JIS Reporter & Editor