Sunday 18 August, 2019

Lambert alleges $17-m unaccounted for in police equipment purchase

Lambert Brown

Lambert Brown

Opposition Senator Lambert Brown is accusing the Ministry of National Security of being unable to account for more than $17 million paid to a consultant to procure equipment for the police.

Brown made the allegation in the Senate on Friday during the debate on the resolution to extend the state of emergency (SOE) in the St Andrew South police division until October 5.

During his contribution to the debate, Brown took time to address allegations of corruption bedevilling the Holness administration.

After making reference to the ongoing Ruel Reid/Ministry of Education/Caribbean Maritime University corruption probe in which he asserted that there was a double standard in how persons were being treated by the police during the course of their investigation, Brown turned his attention to the security ministry.

According to Brown, millions of dollars worth of equipment intended for the police force is unaccounted for.

“Mr President, are you aware that, in 2016, the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of National Security…paid to a consultant the sum of US$135,000 (J$17.5 million) …to procure a number of hand-held x-ray machines?” Brown asked.

“Those machines would allow the police out there to be able to go beside a car and check (to see) if there’s a firearm inside the car.

“That’s 2016 (and) almost 5,000 (people) have been killed, most by the gun since then, and the Ministry of National Security …cannot account for even a single one of those hand-held x-ray machines.

"But US$135,000 has been paid out and, almost three years after, there’s no accountability for it,” Brown asserted.

He told Government senators present that “this is part of the corruption that’s preventing you from fighting crime.”

According to Brown, “somebody else has come up with the idea of procuring those equipment and they can’t afford to let the people know that they had spent US$135,000 and they didn’t get one.” 

He said this was not dissimilar to the multi-million dollar police used car scandal.

Brown directly addressed Government Senator Pearnel Charles Jr who was the Minister of State at the security ministry in 2016.

“Minister, when you go Cabinet Monday, ask about it,” Brown said.

Brown told Charles Jr to ask then Minister of National Security, Robert Montague, if it did in fact happen “cause, I know it happened”.

Montague is now the Minister of Transport and Mining.

And Brown was not finished as he again made reference to the Ruel Reid/CMU corruption probe.

“Just like two weeks ago I spoke about a helper and I was ‘point of ordered’, shut down, speech stopped.

“When I come here and tell ‘unno’ things ‘enuh’, a so it go, so it go”.

The Opposition Senator claimed he could reveal other instances of corruption at the security ministry “but sufficient to the time,” he said.

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