JIS News

The House of Representatives last week approved a resolution giving permission to the Dutch authorities to continue investigations of Trafigura Beheer in Jamaica.
The resolution, which was brought to the Lower House by Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, seeks to affirm a Ministerial Order as the first of several steps to allow Dutch investigators into the island to assist in the criminal investigation against the company. The investigations began in January 2007.
In November 2006, Mr. Golding, in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition, wrote to the National Investigation Unit and the National Public Prosecutor for Corruption, requesting them to conduct an investigation into the payment of Trafigura Beheer of $31 million to an entity known as CCOC Association, which was linked to the then minister of government, Colin Campbell.
During last week’s (Nov.13) sitting of the House of Representatives, Mr. Golding said that the government is of the view that the issues surrounding the payment by Trafigura to entities to which government officials were connected warrant much deeper investigation than have up to now been carried out.
Mr. Golding, in seeking approval of the resolution yesterday, dismissed suggestions put forward by Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Anthony Hylton that giving the Dutch authorities leave to conduct the investigations in the island, could open up the country to possible violation.
Mr. Hylton said that the Opposition is “not opposing the request simply to be obstructive as we feel this is a matter, which requires ventilation,” but noted that “any widespread granting of authority to undertake that kind of investigation would have implications for our own domestic regulations.”
“What is being sought here is that the Dutch are seeking to enter the jurisdiction to undertake certain activities that are the prerogative of sovereign states. Any widespread grant of authority to undertake that kind of investigation will have implication necessarily for the Constitution and for the sovereignty of our country,” Hylton said.
“We have to be very clear that there are certain safeguards. The Opposition at this time is saying that whilst it understands the necessity for the Order, the scope of the Order and what is being granted has to be tailored so that safeguard measures are in place,” he added.
Mr. Golding, in his response, said that there are number of safeguards built into the Mutual Assistance Act, which will guide the conduct of the investigations and which give discretionary powers to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the central authority named in the Act.
“We do feel that it is a matter, which requires serious investigation. We thought it was significant that both Jamaica and the Netherlands are signatories to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, so there is no incompatibility between us or incongruence in responding to the request for legal assistance,” the Prime Minister said.

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