Wed | Sep 23, 2020

We saw Christie raid coming, says St Ann’s Councillor Brown

Published:Monday | June 15, 2020 | 12:25 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Greg Christie (left), executive director of the Integrity Commission, knocks elbows with Kevon Stephenson, director of investigations, on Christie's first day on the job. Christie, a former contractor general who was criticised for his zealotry in fighting
Greg Christie (left), executive director of the Integrity Commission, knocks elbows with Kevon Stephenson, director of investigations, on Christie's first day on the job. Christie, a former contractor general who was criticised for his zealotry in fighting corruption, began a new era at the Integrity Commission's Oxford Road offices in May.

When a team of investigators from a state anti-corruption watchdog swooped down on the offices of the St Ann Municipal Corporation last Friday, minority leader Winston Brown said that he was not surprised by the raid.

Personnel from the Integrity Commission seized computers, cell phones, and documents as investigations deepen into the controversial $46-million bill handed to the corporation for COVID-19 sanitisation work in Ocho Rios.

The Integrity Commission, headed by Executive Director Greg Christie, had indicated that it would monitor the Government’s COVID-19-related expenses and contract awards.

The corporation has also been under scrutiny over the installation of a charging port for the private Porsche motor car of St Ann’s Bay Mayor Michael Belnavis

Brown, who represents the Borobridge division, told The Gleaner that he was awaiting the outcome of the investigations.

“It’s just the continuation of the issues that have transpired over the parish council in recent weeks,” he said on Friday night.

“It went to the PAAC last week, it was referred to the Integrity Commission ... so I’m not surprised,” Brown said of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament. “As a matter of fact, I was looking out for it because I already wrote to the auditor general.”

The issues have been at the forefront of national attention after they were raised at a monthly meeting of the corporation several weeks ago.

The charging port, installed to power the mayor’s personal e-hybrid Porsche Cayenne motor car, has since been removed after outrage by People’s National Party councillors. CEO Belnavis has conceded that the charging port decision was “immoral”, and CEO Rovel Morris has admitted that the plug was pulled over ethical concerns.

Rahim’s Cleaning and Trucking Limited was awarded the contract to carry out cleaning and sanitising works at the eight locations in Ocho Rios.

It was revealed at a recent meeting of the PAAC that more than $9 million was spent to sanitise and clean handrails, gates, doors, gate handles, and door handles at the Ocho Rios Pier.