Friday 14 August, 2020

CMU admits to $720,000 payment to Reid’s driver over 4 months - PAAC

Dr Fritz Pinnock

Dr Fritz Pinnock

The amount of money that may have to be accounted for in the Ruel Reid corruption probe is growing, with news emerging that his former driver was paid $720,000 by the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) over a period of four months.

The money was paid by the institution to Devon McQueen, Reid’s former driver, who, like the Minister, was seconded from Jamaica College, it emerged on Wednesday.

The CMU, which has found itself at the centre of the probe involving the former Minister of Education, Youth and Information, has reportedly admitted to processing four invoices in McQueen’s name after questions were raised in Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).

The Palisadoes Road-based university, in its written responses to the PAAC, said it made two payments of $330,000 each to McQueen in January and April, and two payments of $30,000 each in February and March.

The CMU said it was unable to provide details on the transportation services that were provided by McQueen as the relevant documents are with the Financial Investigation Division (FID).

The FID and police are probing the matter which Reid, who was fired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in March, has found himself at the centre of.

McQueen is one of several persons connected to Reid to whom questionable payments have reportedly been made. The former driver is reported to have denied having any contract with the CMU. So too did Maureen Miller, who was classified as a household helper to Reid.

Miller, a 65-year-old ancillary worker, has denied benefitting from nearly $4 million that was deposited in an account that was opened in her name, allegedly by a close relative of Reid. Miller has reportedly said that she had no control over the bank card or passbook for the account, as the items were taken from her right after the account was opened.

Meanwhile, Reid is under a criminal probe and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewelyn, was quoted in the media last week as saying she could hand down pivotal directions to the investigating agencies by this Thursday, which are expected to have significant bearing on the overall outcome of the probes.

Holness requested Reid’s resignation less than two days after news emerged of alleged impropriety, including nepotism and cronyism, at the Education Ministry and some of the agencies over which the minister had portfolio responsibility.

While Reid waits to see what will emerge from the investigations, CMU President, Dr Fritz Pinnock, has proceeded on six weeks of self-imposed leave to facilitate the probe.

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