Bruce bites off more than he can chew (Updated Saturday Oct 7, ‘06)

There was nuff excitement in the precincts of Parliament Tuesday gone (Oct 3, ’06). While the MP’s of the governing party were inside the House debating a motion to censure Opposition MP Karl Samuda (for being Karl Samuda and running off his mouth), the Leader of the Opposition walked out of the debate and held a press conference to announce that the recent PNP party conference had been funded using J$ 31 million in monies obtained from the notorious Dutch oil trader, Trafigura.

He implied that these were funds improperly obtained as part of Jamaica’s long standing oil deal with Nigeria, and he called on the Government to resign.


“Politics of Bones, The: Dr. Owens Wiwa And The Struggle For Nigeria’s Oil” (J. Timothy Hunt)


All very exciting, and the timing was perfect (for the evening news). In addition to his allegations, Bruce Golding also had evidence – cancelled cheques signed by 2 Cabinet Ministers, Phillip Paulwell and Colin Campbell (both Team Portia members, you will recall).



Colin-Campbell Minister Campbell 2991 Minister Paulwell

By Wednesday morning, the whole episode was looking distinctly duller, and far from resigning, the Cabinet Ministers in question were busy with their lawyers, preparing (1) to find out how/why the bank had provided the information to the JLP (2) to sue the Leader of the Opposition. Mr Golding, lacking Samuda’s native caution, had made the libelous statements outside of the House and therefore could not claim his Parliamentary privileges.

Turns out that Trafigura, a company which has been trading Nigerian oil for Jamaica through both PNP and JLP administrations (yes, child, the JLP were once in power, long, long, ago…), had made a contribution to the PNP’s campaign financing and the PNP had used this money to fund the party conference.

Not quite the thrilling, government-crashing-to-its-knees story we had been led to believe on Tuesday night.

All day Wednesday, young male supporters of both parties were covering all the bases on the talk shows (these must be the parasites of whom Dr. Munroe speaks because I don’t know which business place allows employees to spend the whole morning on the phone chatting to talk show hosts about the issues of the day……). Bruce Golding and Karl Samuda for the JLP, and Bobby Pickersgill for the PNP also talked up a storm.

How it’s looking this morning ?

A. General consensus that it “doesn’t look good for the PNP to be getting contributions from a foreign company that does business with the Government”.

B. Nothing illegal took place.

C. Both parties should work together to push campaign finance reform through the House with all possible dispatch.

D. Nothing will be done because neither party has any intention of revealing who contributes to their party’s finances.

E. The PNP has outflanked the JLP as per usual…..

Who’s disappointed ?

A. Voters who would prefer that the PNP not win a fifth term (and this apparently includes those members of the PNP who don’t like having a black, working class woman as leader)

B. Voters (myself included) who thought Bruce Golding was both intelligent and thoughtful (and would never have called that press conference without having party lawyers and strategists cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s….)

C. Fight fans who hate to watch knock outs and prefer matches to go at least five rounds

Update/Saturday, October 7

There’s been a lot of backing and forthing, fussing in the Senate, more accusations and counter accusations. Everyone (PNP, JLP, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Jamaicans for Justice) has climbed up on their high horse and look like staying there over the weekend. Sonia Christie, a senior employee of the bank in question (First Caribbean International Bank) has either been fired (according to the Gleaner) or sent on leave (according to the Observer).
Only one piece of news so far : Trafigura denies that it made a donation and says that the funds were part of a “commercial transaction”. Last night on “Nationwide”, Cliff Hughes pointed out that there are OECD guidelines for the conduct of  international businesses headquartered in OECD countries (Trafigura Beheer B.V. is Dutch). Giving a donation to the ruling political party of a country you do business with, appears to constitute bribery under these guidelines, hence Trafigura’s denial that it had made such a donation…..Well, at least Trafigura seems to know what their “donation” to the PNP was for…..

Minister Colin Campbell has asked Trafigura to “clarify” their statement. Is he hoping they will admit it was a bribe ? Can Trafigura put the genie back in the bottle ? Will we all have forgotten about it by next week Tuesday ? After all, the Koreans are shooting at each other across the border in anticipation of North Korea’s nuclear tests; Russia and Georgia are daggers drawn; and U.S. Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice has been in the Middle East rallying support for “action” against Iran ………..

“The Greatest” (Tom Gries, Monte Hellman)

[posted with ecto]

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5 thoughts on “Bruce bites off more than he can chew (Updated Saturday Oct 7, ‘06)

  1. Well said. Seems almost hopeless tho.
    I can’t believe they think its okay to fund party events like this. I guess today was not National Accountability Day…

    Been reading you for awhile .. I like your style .. ‘Bad luck worse than obeah’ was what got me started. Had to let you know how much I enjoy the site.

  2. I think this statement you have made might not be true. You problably should check and correct it.

    “Turns out that Trafigura, a company which has been trading Nigerian oil for Jamaica through both PNP and JLP administrations (yes, child, the JLP were once in power, long, long, ago…), had made a contribution to the PNP’s campaign financing and the PNP had used this money to fund the party conference.”

    Trafigura was founded in 1993. …

    Proir to1999, the oil arrangement between Jamaica and Nigeria was handled by a joint venture between the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and international oil trading company Vitol SA Inc.

    The JLP has not been in power since February 1989.


  3. Roleli, you are right. I was relying on comments I heard on Breakfast Club by Dr. Raymond Wright which made me think that the company used by the JLP was incorporated into Trafigura when it was formed in 1993. Googling “Vitol SA Inc.” this morning I found these paragraphs in a story about Goodworks International:-

    Before 1999, oil arrangements between Jamaica and Nigeria were handled by a joint venture between the PCJ and international oil trading company, Vitol SA Inc. Mullings maintained that while the PCJ-Vitol partnership lasted, the Jamaican corporation was allowed to share profits equally. Mullings disclosed that PCJ was indemnified against losses and the partnership was audited frequently by an international oil consultant. “We are advised in a letter to Mr. Audley Shaw (the opposition spokesman on finance and the public service), under the signature of the permanent secretary, that ‘the absence of a Jamaican High Commissioner in Abuja, Nigeria, during 1999 was one of the reasons that led PCJ to acquire the services of GoodWorks International, an Atlanta-based firm, to assist in the process of acquiring new liftings of Nigerian oil’.”

    But the opposition leader insisted on knowing “what qualifications Goodworks had in the oil industry that could have prompted their involvement in the government-to-government negotiations.” A three-way arrangement currently exists between PCJ, Goodworks and a new oil trader, Trafigura Limited. Mullings wondered why the present arrangements are not being audited.
    “One wonders whether this was the reason why the Ministry of Finance and Planning instructed the PCJ that, with effect from April 1, 2005 the net income from the Nigerian oil facility was to be paid into the consolidated fund,” the politician quipped. The Obasanjo administration has also retained Goodworks to polish its image in the USA for an annual fee of $1.6 million, although Nigeria operates an embassy and two consulates there which, observes believe, can be effectively used for the PR purpose.

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