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JAMAICA | Hanna's lawyers say nothing criminal in her actions

Featured Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna
KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 22, 2016 -  Lawyers representing Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna say despite the well publicised findings of the Office of the Contractor General, OCG, in relation to constituency executives in St. Ann South Eastern, there is no criminal culpability on the part of their client and vowed to vigorously defend Hanna's “unblemished” character.

According to the Contractor General, he found there was conspiracy by the Office of the Member of Parliament, the St Ann Municipal Corporation and several contractors to defraud the Government.

However,  attorneys-at-law, KD Knight and John Junor from the law firm Knight, Junor &  Samuels, in response to the Office of the Contractor General's (OCG) tabled report concerning the operations of the St Ann Parish Council and South East St Ann constituency, said that based on preliminary reading there is also no criminal culpability of other persons named in the report.

According to Knight and Junor, the alleged maladies complained of would be applicable to every constituency and parish council division in the island and that it is “ridiculous to contend  that a Member of Parliament can recommend any constituent except one of his or her own political party to be the beneficiary in a work programme”.

With this, the attorneys stated that allegations of corruption in the OCG's 554-page report are without foundation.

The OCG yesterday recommended that criminal investigations be pursued into a possible conspiracy between Hanna's constituency office, the St Ann Municipal Corporation and contractors to defraud the Government of Jamaica.

In June 2015, the Office of the Contractor General launched an investigation following allegations of impropriety. A team from the OCG visited MP Lisa Hanna's constituency office and seized documents.
Contractor General Dirk Harrison has recommended that the police and the Director of  Public Prosecutions conduct a criminal investigation. The OCG has taken the position that documents submitted by Joan McDonald, a constituency executive, made her liable for a criminal investigation to be launched because the authenticity of the documents are in question. 
It adds that former Constituency Development Fund consultant, Andrea Smith, also assisted with the creation of the documents.
The OCG indicated that it took the view that Richard Lake, acting as Vice Chairman of the St. Ann South Eastern constituency executive, should be investigated for breaching the law in relation to obstruction and perversion of the course of justice. This is based on his alleged comments to Joan McDonald about what she should say to the Contractor General during her interview.
In addition, the OCG also recommended that further criminal investigations be pursued for all 53 contracts issued by the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, as it appears there was a conspiracy to defraud the Government.
It also wants this probe to include the possible involvement of other employees in creating false documents as well as aiding and abetting this activity.

The OCG, in its report, also made a recommendation that criminal investigations be initiated concerning the involvement of all councillors within the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, as it relates to allegations of the receipt of monies from contractors for contracts awarded by the St. Ann Municipal Corporation.

In the meantime, The People's National Party (PNP) says it has taken note of the report from the Office of Contractor General relating to his investigation of activities in South East St Ann.

According to the PNP, it has referred the report in its entirety to its legal advisor and integrity commission for their review, and will await their recommendations on the way forward.

“Some of the issues raised in the OCG's report have sweeping implication for our political organisation and structure, including PNP councillors.

Consequently, the party does not intend to make any further statements or comments on this matter until then,” the party said in a release today.

  • Countries: Jamaica

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