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Stabroek News

Kern bailed - Must return to court on March 26
published: Thursday | February 28, 2008

Daraine Luton, Staff Reporter

Member of Parliament for North East St Elizabeth and People's National Party member, Kern Spencer, attempts to hide his face as he is taken from the holding area of the Half-Way Tree Court yesterday. Spencer, who is facing nine charges for his role in the Cuban light-bulb project, was offered bail in the sum of $10 million, but had to sleep in lock-up last night as documents for his bail could not be processed in time. - Photos by Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer

KERN SPENCER and his co-accused, Rodney Chin and Coleen Wright, again slept behind bars last night, even though they were offered bail yesterday when they appeared before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.

Bail was granted around 4:40 p.m. by Resident Magistrate Glen Brown, but despite the processing of some bail documents, the process was not completed as some critical government agencies were already closed.

Spencer and Chin were each granted bail in the sum of $10 million by RM Brown, while Wright was offered bail in the sum of $5 million. They are scheduled to return to court on March 26, and have been ordered to submit their travel documents.

Spencer, a former state minister in the energy ministry; Chin, a businessman, and Wright, Spencer's former personal assistant, were arrested on Tuesday as investigations deepened into the Cuban light-bulb scandal. The energy-saving project racked up $276 million in costs.

All three are accused of unduly benefiting from the project, over which Spencer exercised ministerial control. The charges range from conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act.

Spencer is facing nine charges, Chin four and Wright six.

Orchestrated arrest, bail

Patrick Atkinson, one of Spencer's attorneys, said he was not surprised that bail was granted. He told the court that the decision to arrest Spencer Tuesday evening and book him for a court appearance on Wednesday was "orchestrated".

Atkinson said that Spencer has three passports - one expired, one valid and one diplomatic - which he has handed over to the police. Chin and Wright have also surrendered travel documents.

Yesterday, Spencer and Chin arrived at court at 3:50 p.m. in an unmarked police vehicle and were immediately taken inside the building.

Inside the courtroom, Spencer and Chin sat on the bench reserved for accused persons.

At 4:17, Spencer listened as charges were read out against him. The number of offences rose from seven on Tuesday night to nine. Prior to that, the North East St Elizabeth MP, who wore a suit but no socks, acknowledged the presence of his People's National Party colleague Patrick Roberts, who was in court to support him.

Roberts, who lost to the Jamaica Labour Party's Andrew Holness in his bid to represent West Central St Andrew, was the only PNP executive in sight.

Meanwhile, it was not the presence of Roberts that caused Spencer's face to brighten. When Wright, his former personal assistant, was brought into the courtroom at 4:25, Spencer smiled at her and got a small one in return.

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