Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell, is denying that the People’s National Party is compromised in the controversy about Venezuela and Jamaica relations.
This following rumours that the PNP has benefited from millions of US dollars in campaign donations from the embattled Nicolas Maduro-regime.
Mr. Paulwell is also the MP for East Kingston and a Vice President of the PNP. He issued the strong denial today on Nationwide This Morning.
At the height of the 2016 PNP campaign funds scandal there was talk and speculation that a senior official of the then governing PNP had collected approximately USD$5-million in campaign donations from Venezuela.
The funds were allegedly delivered on the eve of the February 2016 General Election and transported via an aeroplane which landed at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
According to the speculation at the time, law enforcement sources said the jet was registered to a Venezuelan State-owned entity.
It was also being said that some of the funds were converted to Jamaican dollars at a cambio owned by a well known Jamaican businessman with political connections.
The donation and other contributions generated a rift in the PNP. In the aftermath of the PNP’s defeat, the party’s then treasurer, Norman Horne, accused some party members of not turning over funds they collected to the party’s coffers.
The talk and speculation were never verified. However, with the controversy over Venezuela’s stake in Petrojam back on the public agenda, the issue has resurfaced. Is the PNP beholden to the Maduro regime because of the millions of dollars the party received from the regime?
It’s a question, Dennis Brooks and Kalilah Reynolds, put to Phillip Paulwell this morning.
Mr. Paulwell also denied that he participated in talks with representatives of the Maduro regime since the Holness-administration announced its plan to unilaterally take control of Venezuela’s 49-per cent stake in Petrojam.
Our sources say Mr. Paulwell was among a delegation from the PNP which met with representatives of the Maduro regime at a location in the Corporate Area last week Thursday afternoon.
But, Paulwell told Dennis Brooks this morning that’s not so.
Meanwhile, Mr. Paulwell says he agrees with the government’s decision to reject an offer from a private sector company, A &A Lime Hall Development Limited, to purchase all the shares in Petrojam.
A&A was incorporated in 2004 as a rental service in Montego Bay, St James.
On the weekend, PNP Communications Director, Colin Campbell, wrote an article in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper revealing the offer from a private sector company to take control of the shares in Petrojam.
The Foreign Affairs Minister held a media conference and disclosed that the company was not in good standing and did not submit either a proposal or proof of funding.
Minister Johnson Smith says the offer from the company was first e-mailed to her 1 hour after she was questioned about the offer by Mr. Paulwell.
Speaking on Nationwide today, Mr. Paulwell said he agrees with the decision not to sell Petrojam to the private sector company.
Mr. Paulwell also says he knows several companies that are interested in taking control of Petrojam.