Go-Jamaica Gleaner Classifieds Discover Jamaica Youth Link Jamaica
Business Directory Go Shopping inns of jamaica Local Communities

Lead Stories
Profiles in Medicine
More News
The Star
Financial Gleaner
Overseas News
The Voice
Hospitality Jamaica

1998 - Now (HTML)
1834 - Now (PDF)
Find a Jamaican
Power 106FM
News by E-mail
Print Subscriptions
Dating & Love
Free Email
Submit a Letter
Weekly Poll
About Us
Gleaner Company
Contact Us
Other News
Stabroek News

Kern stays in the hot seat: Embattled politician interrogated for a second day
published: Saturday | February 23, 2008

Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter

SENIOR DETECTIVES yesterday kept Kern Spencer in the hot seat for a second consecutive day, as they investigated his role in the Cuban light-bulb scandal.

The embattled 33-year-old politician was not his usual beaming self as he left the downtown Kingston headquarters of the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID) with his legal counsel, Deborah Martin, by his side.

Spencer, a state minister in the former People's National Party government, is at the centre of a criminal investigation into the distribution of free Cuban energy-saving bulbs.

The distribution of the bulbs has cost taxpayers $276 million and there are questions about the way contracts were handed out. Spencer, who was in charge of the project as state minister in the energy ministry, is being investigated for possible criminal misconduct.

Yesterday, Spencer said he was under "strict instructions not to speak". However, Martin told journalists she was not worried about prosecution.

"I am not in a worrying mood ... We prepare ourselves for every eventuality," she said just before Spencer's interrogation.

Lead investigator Superintendent of Police Fitz Bailey, said Spencer was cooperating with the police. He was, however, unable to say whether the North East St Elizabeth member of parliament would be charged.

no decision regarding charges

"I have not come to a decision regarding charges. We are continuing our investigation and I can't determine the end result of the investigation at this time," Bailey said.

Yesterday's interrogation lasted a little under three hours. Spencer was first questioned on Thursday, a session which lasted just over two hours.

Martin asserted that Spencer was being tried in the public court, based on information being fed through the media. She refused to respond to speculation about possible charges saying, "We are awaiting the proper investigations by the proper authorities and we will deal with that at the appropriate time."

The PNP administration had embarked on an energy-saving project to replace incandescent bulbs in households with four million more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs which were a gift from the Cuban Government.

The Jamaican Government was required to meet the cost of clearance, storage and delivery of the bulbs, as well as the transportation and accommodation of 300 Cuban volunteers to install the bulbs.

Contractor General Greg Christie, who conducted a probe into the project, said Spencer had hand-picked Universal Management and Development Company Ltd (UMD) to undertake the distribution of the bulbs. UMD was incorporated just about the time the delivery of the bulbs commenced in 2006.

Businessman Rodney Chin is the chief shareholder and director in UMD, as well as Caribbean Communication Media Network Ltd., which the Government paid more than $3.3 million under the project.

Sherine Shakes, who was the project manager at UMD, is the mother of one of Spencer's children. Shakes' mother, Verdie Mair, was also involved in the project. She is listed as company secretary for UMD. The contractor general has said she was also paid for catering services under the project.

Chin's attorney, Valrie-Neita Robertson, told The Gleaner this week Chin would be questioned next week by Fraud Squad detectives.

More Lead Stories

Print this Page

Letters to the Editor

Most Popular Stories

© Copyright 1997-2008 Gleaner Company Ltd.
Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Letters to the Editor | Suggestions | Add our RSS feed
Home - Jamaica Gleaner