FID boss welcomes court ruling against Reid, Pinnock

FID boss welcomes court ruling against Reid, Pinnock

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisajamaicsaobserver.com

Friday, December 27, 2019

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ROBIN Sykes, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID), has welcomed the decision of Chief Justice Bryan Sykes to strike down an application for the court to throw out the fraud case against former Education Minister Ruel Reid and head of the Caribbean Maritime University Professor Fritz Pinnock on the grounds that the arrest of the men by FID officers were illegal.

The men, in the application brought by attorney -at-law Hugh Wildman, asserted that they were arrested and charged by the

FID which was established by section 4 of the Financial Investigations Division Act, arguing that the FID does not have the power to arrest and charge anyone. They say that by arresting both applicants, the FID acted outside of its statutory powers and therefore what it did was a nullity leading them to seek leave for judicial review.

Justice Sykes, in ruling on the matter, said the court is of the view that the police officers in this case who arrested and charged the applicants were never designated under section 2 of the FID Act and that any power of arrest and charge that they used could only be by virtue of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) powers found under the Constabulary Force Act.

“Consequently, it was not FID that arrested and charged the applicants but JCF officers in their capacity as JCF officers,” the chief justice ruled, adding, “that still leaves open the question of whether the JCF officers utilised any power under FIDA when they were not authorised to do”.

“If yes, that might raise admissibility issues which can be addressed during the criminal trial,” Chief Justice Sykes said in the ruling.

He said, “the court has come to this position on the basis of the absence of evidence that the police officers were authorised officers under FIDA”.

Said Sykes: “I make no pronouncement on the credibility of any of the deponents in this case. This means that this decision must not be understood as indicating that the deponents for the respondents were found to be more credible than applicants”.

One Tuesday, the FID's chief technical director said the court's response had been anticipated.

“For the FID we had always maintained that we acted appropriately and that's what the judge held, that the application from the start lacked merit and when we saw the papers we realised there were no facts being alleged or proven on the document. It was just all what the applicants said, there was nothing to back it up, so we were fairly confident and happy that the chief justice ruled in our favour so we can move on,” Sykes said.

“We were very clear that the officers who carried out the arrests. although they were assigned to the FID they are Jamaica constabulary officers first and foremost; we were never clear as to what the applicants were saying but we were certain that our officers acted appropriately and within the powers granted to them by the statute “ he added.

Said the FID's Sykes: “We certainly are not going to stop our pursuit of persons who are involved in financial crimes. What we are really happy with is that the judiciary and our justice system moved quickly to deal with this matter so that essentially the trial can proceed in January. We can imagine that the chief justice would have worked very hard to produce this judgement on Christmas Eve; I am just glad that the road is clear for us to proceed to trial. We are happy the judgement was received in good time.”

In the meantime, Sykes, who incidentally demits office this month end, said he will be keeping any eye on the developments in the case.

I know Mr Haye (Deputy Commissioner of Police Selvin Haye, successor) is a very dedicated law enforcement officer and I know that he will carry this onto fruition but I will be keeping a close eye on it,” Sykes told the Jamaica Observer.

Law enforcement agencies in early October arrested and charged former Education Minister Ruel Reid, his wife Sharen, daughter Sharelle, CMU President Fritz Pinnock and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence (Jamaica Labour Party, Brown's Town Division, St Ann) during early-morning raids at their homes in a coordinated strike acting on allegations of financial improprieties. They were subsequently brought before the Half-Way-Tree Criminal Court and charged before being granted bail


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