Findings of City Hall COI for further criminal, financial investigation
The Local Government Commission (LGC) is currently perusing the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the administration, operation and management of the financial affairs of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council.
“Separate measures will be referred for either criminal or financial investigation and action as may be warranted,” the Commission stated Wednesday.
In a statement, the Commission said it has asked officers implicated in the report to respond in writing to the findings “in keeping with the rules of natural justice.”
Several officers requested additional time to respond and this was granted, the Commission said.
Those persons will be required to attend meetings organized by the Commission in the next two weeks.
The Commission, chaired by Mortimer Mingo, at its December 20th, 2018 meeting deliberated on and agreed to several administrative measures which it will proceed to implement in the interim.
The COI was established by the Commission in 2018, centered on complaints from business persons and other citizens about the management of City Hall. At the center of the investigation was Town Clerk, Royston King.
The report of the Commission, headed by Justice Cecil Kennard, recommended disciplinary actions against King for “gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy and misappropriation of funds.”
When King was dragged before the Commission, he sought to challenge the legality of the COI but this was thrown out by Commissioner, Justice Cecil Kennard.
The COI later found that King paid millions of dollars to contractors without signing a single contract and rented eight lands belonging to the council to friends, families and close associates of senior members of the Council, for far below par value and in some cases for no payment.
The COI report noted that there was information about King’s involvement in the fake purchasing of properties which were unoccupied and owed rates and taxes; it recommended a further Forensic Audit before criminal charges are laid.
In the mean time, it was noted that the LGC can approach the Court to grant orders to trace and freeze the assets of the Town Clerk.
The Town Clerk remains on administrative leave.
Former City Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green was flacked for condoning the actions of the Town Clerk when she refused to deal with a No Confidence Motion brought against him by then Alliance For Change Councillor Sherod Duncan.
The report cited collusion among the then Mayor, the Town Clerk and the Chairman of the Finance and Human Resource Management Committees.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee is Councillor Oscar Clarke who was voted in on November 30, to serve another three years in that post.
The report recommended actions against several other top officers for dereliction of duty since they “acted in concert with decisions of the Town Clerk or Council even when these decisions were in contrast to their professional duty.”
Those persons are Acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe, City Engineer Colvern Venture, Chief Constable Andrew Foo, Human Resources Manager Paulette Braithwaite and Acting City Engineer Rasheed Kelman.
The COI recommended that City Treasurer Ron McCalmon proceed on early retirement. During the public hearings, the Commission heard that McCalmon has been on sick leave since March of 2018. He has since requested to go on pre-retirement leave.
While the Commission’s report recommended that the City’s Internal Auditor, Omodele Umojo-Newton, face disciplinary action for incompetence and conspiracy, it was noted that “the Council (should) employ qualified accounting personnel to hold the office of Internal Auditor.”