Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | February 1, 2009
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Hiding overseas - Offshore companies getting Government contracts
Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter


PUBLIC OFFICIALS may be using the veil of offshore companies to break the law by accepting government contracts without declaring their interest.

Contractor General Greg Christie, in his report on a contract involving the supply of satellite simulcast to Caymanas Track Limited, said he has observed a growing practice of non-local companies being used as a firewall against transparency.

"The OCG has observed that there is a growing trend of onshore and offshore incorporated private companies that are receiving Government of Jamaica contracts, but whose shareholders and/or beneficial shareholders are substantially unknown," Christie said in his report.

Under law, public officials are required to declare their interests in companies with which government is doing business.


The Constitution also requires parliamentarians to make declarations about their interest in companies with which Government may do business. A failure to do so could be grounds for the member to be forced to make his seat vacant.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner last week, Christie said that he is very concerned that Parliament has not moved to plug a hold which public officials may be exploiting.

"We have enough information where I can say to you it is a concern," Christie said.

The contractor general said that more that 10,000 government contract over the value of $250,000 were issued last year, the great majority of them being awarded to corporate entities.

"A contract could be awarded to a company and you don't know who the shareholders are," Christie argues.


In his two most recent probes, Christie was unable to ascertain the persons who are benefiting from the award of government contracts, as shareholders listed for companies he probed were non-Jamaican companies.

The contractor general only has jurisdiction in Jamaica and thus has no basis in law to drill and find who are the persons benefiting from government contracts.

In the case of SportsMax, which is incorporated in Jamaica, Christie found that it has two shareholders, Oliver McIntosh and and International Media Corporation (IMC). However, the shareholders of IMC are unknown to the contractor general, as it is incorporated in St Lucia.

In another instance, the OCG in a special investigation into the the lease of properties by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), hit a firewall in an attempt to ascertain the beneficial shareholders of Nation Growth Micro Finance Limited, a company in which Aubyn Hill is a director.

Hill, at the time of the lease, was director of DBJ. He was not listed as a shareholder of Nation Growth Micro Finance Limited. The company had two sharehol-ders, Lancelot Raynor and a company called Business Today Corporation, which was also incorporated in St Lucia.

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