Monday 21 October, 2019

Pinnock again on special leave from CMU

Professor Fritz Pinnock

Professor Fritz Pinnock

President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), Professor Fritz Pinnock has proceeded on special leave, one week after he returned to work under controversial circumstances.

The development, which is outlined in a statement issued by the east Kingston-based university on Tuesday, follows concerns raised on Monday by the parliamentary Opposition about the circumstances under which Pinnock had returned to work.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, during a press conference on Monday, demanded answers from the Government regarding Pinnock’s return to his job on September 30, while the CMU was still being investigated as part of a corruption probe.

The CMU said Pinnock agreed to proceed on special leave with immediate effect to allow for the investigations to be completed. This followed a discussion between Pinnock and the Chairman of the CMU Council, Dr Hyacinth Bennett.

“During the discussion it was agreed that in the interest of transparency, Professor Pinnock is to proceed on special leave until the probe is completed,” the university said.

The Auditor General’s department is conducting a probe at the CMU and, according to Bennett, the university is cooperating with the department.

She sought to assure that all is well at the university with the annual graduation exercise set for next month.

Pinnock first took six weeks of voluntary leave in July to facilitate the probe. At the time, he said it was to give investigators who are probing allegations of corruption at the CMU - which has been linked to the criminal probe now under way of discarded former Education Minister, Ruel Reid - a free hand to conduct their investigations.

CMU found itself at the centre of the scandal involving Reid, who was fired as Education Minister in March of this year after allegations of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and the possible misuse of public funds at the ministry and some of its affiliated agencies, including the CMU, surfaced.

Pinnock twice extended his leave and, in mid-September when he was due to return, said he would extend his leave indefinitely to allow the investigators to complete their work. However, eyebrows were raised when he returned to work last week Monday and the Government has since refused to state under what circumstances he returned to the institution.

Deputy President, Ibrahim Ajagunna, who was named acting President in July, will continue to serve in that position.

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