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Former PNP General Secretary clears the air on his role in Petrojam deal

Businessman and former General Secretary of  the People's National Party (PNP) Paul Burke, has disclosed that he was acting on behalf  of  a group of  investors when he made an offer to buy Venezuela's stake in Petrojam for US$55 million and stands to make US$1-million if  he successfully brokers the deal.
 
The disclosure was made in a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Saturday seeking to clear the air on his role in relation to the offer which has been the subject of  public discussion in recent days.
 
In the letter, Mr. Burke did not identify the group of  investors on whose behalf  he said he was acting.
 
However, he said the consortium started taking steps towards acquiring the shares from the first quarter of  2018.
 
The former PNP General Secretary explained that the move was triggered by speculation that the Andrew Holness-led administration was planning to divest Petrojam to a Chinese investor and it was thought that Jamaicans should seek to have a major stake in the refinery.
 
Mr. Burke said an initial offer was made in early November last year and a revised offer on November 21.
 
He said no further communication has occurred and his company, Cheriton Trading and Investments, has learnt that Venezuela's PDVSA was interested in pursuing another offer, higher than the consortium's.
 
There have been reports that the Venezuelan authorities received an offer of  US$100 million for the shares.
 
The government has said it saw no evidence that one of  the offers received by Venezuela for its stake was a genuine one as it could not identify how the company would pay for the shares.
 
However, in his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Burke said if  the Government of  Jamaica does not go ahead with purchasing the Venezuelan shares, the consortium will, at an appropriate time, demonstrate proof and source of  funds so the public can judge who is sincere and who is bluffing.
 
In the meantime, Mr. Burke has disclosed that in addition to his US$1-million fee, an attorney acting on his behalf in Venezuela stands to earn a success fee of  US$400 thousand.
 
Mr. Burke said he received no up-front payments, incentives or allowances of  any sort.
 
And when contacted by RJR News Mr. Burke confirmed that he wrote to the Prime Minister.
 
In his letter, Mr. Burke said he wanted to provide the information ahead of  a presentation in the House of  Representatives by the Prime Minister on the matter.


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