Heathrow sale slot row heats up
Published: Tuesday | April 13, 2010
The Gleaner has learnt that Jamaica Constabulary Force sleuths have asked the Greg Christie-led Office of the Contractor General (OCG) to carefully craft a formal complaint against Davies who is accused of breaching Section 29(a) of the Contractor General Act. “We had a meeting with the police to develop a statement, so that is what we are in the process of working on now … . And we are working on that in consultation with our attorneys,” Christie told The Gleaner. On March 31, 2009, the OCG submitted its report of investigation into the divestment of Air Jamaica’s London Heath-row slots to Parliament, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and the commissioner of police, among others. Contained in the 196-pager was an allegation that Davies “made a false statement to mislead, or attempted to mislead, a contractor general, contrary to Section 29(a) of the Contractor General Act”. Late last year, DPP Paula Llewellyn agreed with the findings of the contractor general and sent the matter to the police for further investigation. Davies has argued that any incorrect statement he made to the OCG would be a genuine mistake, as his files had been left at his former office and he was going from memory. But despite this, the Heathrow case is poised to heat up.
Efforts to contact Davies were unsuccessful. The former finance minister was not home when The Gleaner called and he did not respond to an email containing questions pertinent to the Heathrow row. Superintendent Colbert Edwards, head of the Fraud Squad, told The Gleaner he could not comment on the matter. He then referred our news team to the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN). Police personnel attached to the CCN said the constabulary’s communication arm could not provide a response on the Heathrow issue. The contractor general refused to put a time frame on the completion of the statement, but said he was absolutely sure that it would be delivered to the police. Llewellyn confirmed that the police are awaiting an official statement from the contractor general to proceed because the contractor general is the complainant. “He is supposed to give a witnessed statement; he or his office. But my last word from the police is that they have not yet received it,” she said. “The investigation would logically commence with the statement of a complainant. You can’t use his report, you need a witnessed statement.”
The DPP also told The Gleaner that after statements and other material has been collected in the case against Davies, the police are empowered to charge without referring the matter back to her office for such a determination. The OCG, in its report, had stated that the process of evaluation, selection and approval of the Virgin Atlantic proposal, in respect of the sale of the Air Jamaica Limited Heathrow slots, lacked transparency, fairness and impartiality. Charged with the responsibility of monitoring government contracts, the OCG concluded that the Virgin Atlantic proposal was not based on merit and was improper and irregular, and consequently, unlawful. The Heathrow slots were sold to Virgin Atlantic for £5.1 million (US$10.2 million).
The report called into question the roles of Davies and that of former chairman of the board of directors of the airline, O.K. Melhado, in the sale of the prime slots, which was agreed on in May 2007. In the report, which drew sharp criticisms from Davies and Melhado, Christie claimed that “Dr Davies had unlawfully and improperly intervened in the sale of the London Heathrow slots.