KINGSTON — General Manager of the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (FINSAC), Errol Campbell, told the Commission of Enquiry Wednesday (November 2), that he has found no records suggesting that politicians were given special treatment in the handling of their bad debts by the company.
"They were treated like normal debtors," Mr. Campbell told the Commission, which was having its final sitting, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston. However, in responding to questions from co-commissioner, Charles Ross, Mr. Campbell admitted that the records did indicate that there were discussions at FINSAC in the 1990s about a special policy for debts owed by politicians.
"It appears there were discussions, Mr. Chairman," he told FINSAC Commission chairman, Worrick Bogle, but insisted that the records show that no policy was agreed and it was decided, eventually, to treat them like "normal debtors".
The response from the FINSAC boss, however, seemed to have raised concerns among debtors attending the sitting, as well as Mr. Ross, especially in light of a statement from former Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Karl Blythe, that he had been informed by the late Dennis Joslin, the American investor who eventually bought the bad debts from FINSAC, that the Ministry of Finance and Planning would have to sign off on any adjustment to his loans.
According to Dr. Blythe, he was told by Mr. Joslin that, "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."
Mr. Ross alluded to a policy document on how the debts of politicians should be handled, which was raised during the hearings. Mr. Campbell said that “it appeared” that while there were discussions on a policy allowing the Ministry of Finance and Planning to sign off on those loans, it was eventually decided to leave it to the board.
At the close of the sitting, Mr. Bogle, said it would be their last public hearing, although he admitted that there were a number of outstanding documents, including submissions from attorneys in the enquiry.
Asked by JIS News how soon he felt a report would become available, Mr. Bogle said he did not wish to disclose a timeframe, but that he was “hopeful” it would be available before the end of the year.
The Commission was established in October 2008, and has been sitting since September 2009 suffering several delays in the interim, including court challenges. Original chairman, retired Justice Boyd Carey, was booted by the court in 2010, because he was considered a FINSAC debtor. Carey filed an appeal, contending that the court erred in its decision, but the appeal failed. Since then Mr. Bogle and Mr. Ross, both original members of the commission have carried on the enquiry.
The Commission was appointed to probe the collapse of the financial sector in the 1990s and the resulting treatment of people whose debts were taken over by the government-owned FINSAC.
By Balford Henry, JIS Reporter & Editor