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PAAC probing whether nepotism involved NESol hiring company for undocumented work

PAAC Chairman Dr. Wykeham McNeill and Audrey Sewell, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister
 
A parliamentary committee is probing whether there was any nepotism involved in the hiring of a company by controversy plagued National Energy Solutions Limited (NESol) to carry out a multi-million dollar project.
 
The issue came up Wednesday during a meeting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).
 
Last week, the PAAC was told that Peak Energy Solutions was contracted by NESol, and was paid more than $12 million for work it claimed had been done.
 
The money was paid despite the absence of a contract.
 
On Wednesday, PAAC Chairman Dr. Wykeham McNeill said he was very concerned, especially after learning that former NESol boss Carolyn Warren, and the head of the contracted company, Lenny Gordon, were former co-workers at media entity Nationwide News Network. 
 
Mr. Gordon was the General Manager of Nationwide News Network. He resigned following questions of Peak Energy Solutions' involvement with NESol. 
 
Dr. McNeill said it is important to know whether the contract had been put to tender and whether the relationship between Mr. Gordon and Ms Warren influenced the process. 
 
It is understood that Peak Energy was formed in June 2017 and worked on 19 community access point sites from October 2017 to  July this year.
 
The work was verified by NESol's then operations engineer, Laurence Pommels, who has since been arrested by the police after he was allegedly found with more than $35 million in cash.
 
No show 
 
Meanwhile, another attempt will be made to get the former heads of  two agencies mired in the corruption scandal which enveloped the former Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy to appear before the PAAC.
 
They failed to show up at Wednesday's sitting of the Committee.
 
Former NESoL boss Carolyn Warren and Camille Buchanan, the former chief executive officer of the Universal Service Fund (USF) sent their apologies citing short notices from the PAAC.
 
Robert Lawrence, Chairman of the USF, as well as NESol Chairman Oswald Williams were also unable to attend.
 
Dr. McNeill said, while their responses indicate their willingness to come, two week notices will be sent to the individuals to face the committee. He noted that the PAAC has the power to summon any current or former public sector employee under the provisions of Section 9 and Section 12 of the constitution.  
 
In the meantime, Audrey Sewell, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, has taken issue with a suggestion that she should respond to issues of corruption in agencies which fall under the ministry.
 
She dismissed the suggestion made by PAAC Member Fitz Jackson, arguing that that responsibility should fall on the chairmen of the respective boards. 
 
"Permanent secretaries get a lot of flack for things that, by law, we have no authority, no power to address," she asserted. 
 


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