Chief Justice Bryan Sykes says although the Financial Investigation Division, FID, doesn’t have the power to arrest and charge, the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who’re assigned to the investigating body, do have those powers.
Chief Justice Sykes made the ruling today after hearing the arguments in the matter of a judicial review, last week.
Hugh Wilman is representing former Education Minister Ruel Reid, and Professor Fritz Pinnock.
Both are before the court following a corruption probe in the Caribbean Maritime University, CMU, and the Education Ministry.
Ruel Reid and his co-accused were slapped with a myriad of charges in October.
Those charges ranged from breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act, Conspiracy to Defraud, Misconduct in a Public Office at Common Law, and breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Other charges that were laid include conspiracy to defraud and being in possession of criminal property.
But just a day after Reid, his wife Sharen, their daughter Sharelle, Professor Pinnock and Councillor for the Brown’s Town Division in the St. Ann Municipal Corporation, Kim Brown Lawrence, were charged, a judicial review was filed.
Mr. Wilman argued that the FID didn’t have the statutory power to lay criminal charges.
He insisted that the charges laid against Reid and his co-accused are null and void.
But, the FID Chief Technical Director, Robin Sykes, refuted those arguments. Instead, he said the charges against the co-accused were laid by the Constabulary Financial Unit, CFU.
Mr. Sykes noted that the CFU is assigned to the FID but it’s staffed with members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, JCF.
The arguments were made before the Chief Justice on December 18.
Chief Justice Sykes accepted the position of the attorneys representing the FID, Richard Small and Cheryl-Lee Bolton.
In his ruling, the Chief Justice says the court is of the view that the police who arrested and charged the accused did so under the power granted to them by virtue of being members of the Constabulary.
He says the powers granted to the FID under the FID Act makes the body an investigating authority without the power to arrest and charge.
But he says it’s not the FID who carried out the arrests.
However, the Chief Justice did say there’s still a question of whether the arresting officers used any powers under the FID Act when they were not authorised to do so.
He says this may raise admissibility issues during the criminal trial.
Reid and his co-accused were granted bail when they appeared in court in October.
They’ll return to court on January 23, next year.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Sykes also dismissed Mr. Wildman’s submission contesting the granting of a fiat by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution to allow the FID to prosecute Reid and his co-accused.
As part of the application for judicial review, Mr. Wildman sought to prohibit the FID from taking steps to seek and obtain a fiat against his clients.
But in his ruling, Chief Justice Sykes says the Office of the DPP is authorised to grant fiats for attorneys to prosecute criminal matters.
He says the DPP also has the power to grant fiats where it sees fit.
He says the fiat was granted to two attorneys, and not to the FID.
Chief Justice Sykes says the court will not interfere with the granting of a fiat unless in exceptional circumstances.