Funds for Wheatley's surprise party reimbursed

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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THE money that was spent on a surprise birthday party for former Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley has been repaid to Petrojam Limited.

In a brief statement Thursday, Petrojam said that on December 31, 2018, a cheque valued at $1,370,850 was received under cover of a letter from an Elizabeth Moyston.

The letter, the State-run oil refinery said, indicated that the cheque was reimbursement for amounts expended on Wheatley's surprise birthday party.

“The amount received represents reimbursement for the total cost of the birthday party,” Petrojam said.

The revelation about the surprise birthday party was contained in a comprehensive audit of Petrojam and its parent company, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), tabled in Parliament last December. The audit had been commissioned following public concerns regarding mismanagement at the oil refinery.

The report revealed that former general manager Floyd Grindley had approved payments for invoices totalling $2.6 million in relation to two parties — one for former board chairman Dr Perceval Badaho-Singh and the other for then Energy Minister Wheatley — which were of “a personal and private nature”.

In July last year, Wheatley resigned from the Cabinet, bowing to intense pressure from the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), which was dogged in its insistence that Prime Minister Andrew Holness boot him from the Executive over allegations of corruption and mismanagement at Petrojam and other entities under his portfolio.

Wheatley, in his resignation letter, noted that after consultations with the prime minister and against the background of continued questions, it was agreed that there should be a general performance review of the board and executive levels of the energy, science and technology portfolios.

“This is necessary to assure the public that the highest standards of probity are being applied to the administration of the affairs of public bodies under the portfolio,” Wheatley had said.

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