Monday 20 January, 2020

Chuck expresses disappointment at Ruel Reid raid

Delroy Chuck

Delroy Chuck

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck, has expressed disappointment at the way in which his former Cabinet colleague, Ruel Reid, and the President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Professor Fritz Pinnock, were arrested by detectives in separate but related pre-dawn operations on Wednesday.

Several of Reid’s family members and a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) functionary in the North West St Ann constituency which Reid represented before he fell from grace in March of this year, were also detained in a major development in a corruption scandal that has rocked the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government.

The scandal has been linked to the Education Ministry, which Reid was in charge of, and the CMU, which falls within the ministry’s portfolio.

In speaking to reporters following a child diversion sensitisation meeting in St Mary on Wednesday, Chuck commented on the development earlier in the day, primarily and how it unfolded.

“The DPP seems to have had no additional material or evidence, and what seems so unfortunate is that the arrests took place (in a manner that) looks like Nicodemus in the night.”

Of his regrets, he added: “I don’t get the impression that these persons are actually running away. They have made themselves available on all occasions, so in fact if an arrest should have been made, they could easily have been asked to come in so that they could be charged.”

He also spoke on the question of bail.

According to Chuck, if charges were to be laid against the person now arrested as a result of the probe: “I suspect they could easily have been granted their own bail, or they could be asked to surrender their travel documents, as the case may be.”

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) reported Wednesday morning that the Financial Investigation Division (FID), MOCA and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Division (C-TOC) conducted simultaneous operations at four locations in Kingston, St Catherine and St Ann.

Ruel Reid (left) and Professor Fritz Pinnock. 

“The operations, which commenced at 5am, targeted the main suspects implicated in multi-million dollar corruption and fraudulent schemes perpetrated at the Ministry of Education, Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) and other Government entities falling under the portfolio responsibility of Mr Ruel Reid, former Senator and Minister of Government,” the MOCA release stated.

But Chuck cited detectives on the case as being “salacious, in that you put so many people at these persons’ gates”.

He also questioned whether detectives are sure about what they are doing.

According to the justice minister, “based on the little I’ve heard, it’s a further search for more material, so it seems like the authorities are still not sure what they are looking for.”

He also questioned why the investigations were taking so long.

He said: “Come to a conclusion. If you don’t have the material, report that there’s not enough material to charge. But if you go and you charge, be careful that you (don’t) charge on very limited evidence, with the end result that the cases might not go very far, and that would undermine the sort of confidence that you would have in the institution if you proceed to charge on very limited evidence and the cases turn out to be weak or dismissed by the court.”

Chuck admitted that he does not know of the evidence that is involved in the probe, but stressed that at the end of the day, “we must be very professional in what we do”.

He expressed the hope that the manner in which the law enforcement agencies carry out their operations can be accepted as being professional.

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