KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday October 9, 2019 – Former Education Minister Ruel Reid is in police custody as law enforcement authorities continue investigations into allegations of corruption, fraud and misappropriation of funds at the ministry and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
Police confirmed that several people were arrested and taken into custody for further questioning when simultaneous searches were conducted at four locations in St Andrew, St Catherine and St Ann early this morning. Several items, including documents and electronic devices, were also seized.
While no names were released, multiple media reports said warrants were executed at Reid’s home, as well as the residence of CMU president, Professor Fritz Pinnock, and the former minister and two family members, along with the university president were subsequently detained.
The Financial Investigation Division, Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Division conducted the operations, which began at 5 a.m., to target the main suspects implicated in a multi-million dollar corruption and fraudulent schemes perpetrated at the Ministry of Education, CMU and other government entities falling under Reid’s portfolio.
Chief Technical Director of the Financial Investigation Division, Robin Sykes said on radio today that charges are expected to be laid later in the day.
He said investigators believed they had established a strong case.
“An operation of this nature relies on where the evidence is taking you, the strength of the evidence as well as serious issues of logistics, serious issues of resources mobilization,” he said on Nationwide News Network this morning.
“This is not something that we pulled out of the hat one day or two days ago. This is something that we have been planning and we have been monitoring the activities of targets and this is the day we have decided to proceed.”
Reid resigned in March this year amid allegations of corruption in his ministry, and also gave up his position as Senator.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness had said at the time that Reid’s resignation would ensure that any investigation into matters of concern would not be in any way impeded by his presence or oversight of the ministry.
There had been allegations regarding misuse of public funds and corruption at the Ministry of Education, similar to what had been uncovered in the scandal at state-owned oil refinery Petrojam.
The alleged issues specifically involved the CMU and how funds sent to the ministry by the HEART Trust for the Career Advancement Programme as well as the Technical, Vocational, Educational and Training (T-VET) Rationalization Project were being utilized.