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The immediate crisis within the nation’s top watchdog on corruption, the National Integrity Commission (NIC), appears to have blown over. The controversial member of the Commission and former Contractor General, Mr. Dirk Harrison, will remain on board as an investigator. This was the outcome of the media interaction the members of the NIC had on May 13. The Head of the Integrity Commission, Justice Karl Harrison (no relation to Mr. Dirk Harrison) was not present at the media briefing but issued a statement on behalf of all members of the Commission. Dr. Derrick McKoy, a former Contractor General himself, spoke to the media and tried to deflect criticisms over the whole issue.
St. Ann Hotel Property Sale Report by OCG Damning
The genesis of the current issue goes back to a report submitted to the Parliament by Mr. Dirk Harrison in his capacity as the Contractor General on a particular sale of the hotel property to Moon Place Resorts. That report is said to contain insinuations that there was interference in the transactions by the Cabinet Minister Hon. Daryl Vaz. The basic charge by the opposition is that the correct valuation of the property was close to $13 million whereas the price at which it was sold was just $7.2 million. The difference is considered a loss to the exchequer. The opposition would want the nation to believe that there is corruption involved, but the Minister himself has denied any wrongdoing.
Report No Contention with Dirk Harrison
Explaining their stand, both Chairman Justice Karl Harrison, as well as the other members, said they still do not agree with some parts or conclusions of the report of the OCG. That, however, does not mean they have any issue with Mr. Dirk Harrison, who is now a part of the National Integrity Commission after the OCG was scrapped and merged with the IC. Dr. Derrick McKoy pointed out that there are a number of cases where two judges in a Court of Appeal differ with each other on the final verdict being given out on a case. That does not mean there are differences between them.
This may put an end to the controversy for some time. The broader questions on why Mr. Dirk Harrison has still not been issued an appointment letter by the Governor General, for his new position and the leaked letter of the AG seeking to buy his term out, are still to be addressed.
One may have to wait longer to know the truth in those reports.