Politicians deny Olint allegations

Patterson denies getting money from David Smith

THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and former Prime Minister P J Patterson
both issued statements yesterday reacting to media reports regarding
benefits allegedly received from David Smith, the jailed Jamaican who
headed the collapsed investment scheme, Olint.
Former Cabinet minister and JLP Deputy Treasurer Daryl Vaz also
responded to allegations in an interview with the Jamaica Observer last
night.
The statements followed reports of a Confiscation Order issued by the
Supreme Court of the British Caribbean colony, Turks and Caicos,
claiming that both the Opposition JLP and the ruling People’s National
Party (PNP), as well as Patterson and Vaz benefited from donations from
Smith.
In a brief statement, the Opposition party said that it was aware that
Olint/David Smith “was one of many contributors to the JLP campaign over
the period leading up to the September 2007 General Election”. The JLP
added that it was “examining the claim that US$5 million was donated to
the party”.
In a much longer statement, Patterson categorically denied allegations
that he received US$1 million from Smith, “or any such gift”.
Patterson explained that, prior to the 2007 General Election, he had a
telephone conversation with Smith, who, he said, confessed that while he
was supporting both major political parties, he was determined to see
the defeat of the PNP’s candidate for Central Manchester, Peter Bunting.
According to Patterson, Smith had expressed a fear that should the PNP
win the election Bunting would become minister of finance, “and he
feared he was out to destroy him”.
Said Patterson: “I assured him that in any case the traditions of the
party and the guidelines for Cabinet conduct would not allow any member
to pursue a vendetta or discriminatory treatment against any person or
group engaged in business. Anything done would be in accordance with the
law.”
He said he referred Smith to PNP campaign director Donald Buchanan,
about contributing to the campaign. He said he did not know what
resulted from those discussions.
“What I can assert is that no money came into any account owned or
controlled by me, nor was there any cheque signed by me, nor did any
other financial transaction take place which required or obtained my
sanctions,” Patterson said.
Vaz, meanwhile, denied that any donation he received from Smith was a personal gift.
“I want to make it very clear that any donation under my name was a
donation to the party and not a personal gift. However, it should be
understood that I had dual responsibilities as a candidate and as the
deputy treasurer of the party,” he explained.
Vaz also pointed out that neither he nor the JLP has ever denied
receiving donations from Smith, but he said that this should be seen in
the context that up to 2007 Olint was a legally registered business,
operating in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands .
Vaz’s statement was supported by a newspaper interview of JLP treasurer,
Chris Bovell, which appeared on July 26, 2008, headlined “Olint funded
both the JLP and the PNP”, and in which Bovell admitted that the JLP had
received donations from Smith, but described the US$5 million
suggestion as “ridiculous”.
“We got some money from Olint, but it was nothing near US$5 million;
that is ridiculous,” Bovell said then. In the same article, PNP chairman
Robert Pickersgill dismissed claims that the PNP received US$1.3
million from Olint in 2007.
Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the United States District
Court in Orlando, Florida last August. He was accused of defrauding
thousands of customers of more than US$220 million and was convicted
after pleading guilty to 18 counts of money laundering, four counts of
wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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