Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Ex-assistant admits to trying to hide role in Singh refund voucher

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2022 | 12:12 AM
Floyd Grindley, former Petrojam general manager.
Floyd Grindley, former Petrojam general manager.

A former administrative assistant at Petrojam conceded on Tuesday that she wanted to hide that she had prepared a disbursement voucher for a refund to then chairman Dr Perceval Singh for an unapproved business trip by not signing the document.

Singh and former general manager Floyd Grindley are both on trial in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on several fraud-related charges regarding travel allowance claims amounting to US$73,620.

She said having recognised that the preparation of the voucher would have breached the ministry's guidelines, she not only refused to sign it but also sought guidance from the chief financial officer, Delroy Brown.

When asked during Tuesday's cross-examination by Grindley's attorney K.D. Knight if her refusal to sign the voucher was to hide her preparation of the document, she initially disagreed.

However, she later acknowledged that was her reason but agreed to the use of the term 'conceal' instead of 'hide'.

The witness, who indicated that there were at least three vouchers that she did not sign, admitted that Brown had advised her not to place her imprimatur on the document.

However, when asked by Knight, a King's Counsel, whether she had sought Brown's advice on all three, she said she was only certain about the one relating to Singh's first trip, for which a claim was made.

But the witness later explained that she eventually affixed her initials to the documents after she was told by an accounts department official that they had to be signed.

During further cross-examination by Knight, she testified that she did not find it odd that the company's accounts department had issued a refund cheque for the business trip although the department head had advised her against signing the disbursement voucher.

The witness, however, admitted that Brown had the authority to refuse to issue the refund.

She explained that if the request was from a superior, Brown could not unilaterally refuse but would first have to speak with the person.

The witness, who had worked with Grindley for some time, testified on Monday that she refused to sign the disbursement voucher as there was no approval from the permanent secretary.

She had also told the court that she felt uncomfortable signing the document.

Additionally, she testified on Monday that when she enquired about the ministry's approval, Grindley told her that it was not needed as it was a refund for the chairman.

The witness also recalled that Grindley had dismissed her and did not accept her suggestion to write a letter or send an email to the permanent secretary for approval.

Meanwhile, Brown, who recently completed his evidence, told the court that he had not checked if the disbursement vouchers were in breach of any of the company's guidelines or policies.

Another administrative assistant will resume her evidence today.

The former executives were arrested and charged in connection with allegations that Singh submitted claims between November 2016 and July 2018 for overseas travel he did not make.

Grindley is alleged to have aided and abetted him in the submission of those claims.