Former education minister Ruel Reid, his wife Sharen and daughter Sharelle and two other co-accused are alleged to have defrauded over $50 million from the Caribbean Maritime Institute and the Ministry of Education.
The other co-accused are President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) Fritz Pinnock and Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Browns Town division Kim Brown-Lawrence.
The allegations were revealed in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court in Half-Way Tree where the five appeared Thursday morning (Oct 10), a day after they were arrested.
All were smartly attired and took their seats in the prisoners’ dock. Reid tried to appear calm and flashed a smile and a wave at members of the media but Pinnock and Brown-Lawrence had sombre countenances. Sharelle Reid appeared indifferent as she sat silently. Reid took time to chat with his wife.
The Reid family is being represented bt Carolyn Chuck, while Hugh Wildman represents Pinnock. Christopher Townsend represents Brown- Lawrence. Reid and Pinnock are charged with conspiracy to defraud, possession of criminal property, engaging in a transaction involving criminal property, misconduct in public office and corruption. Sharen Reid, her daughter Sharelle and Brown-Lawrence are all charged with possession of criminal property and conspiracy to defraud.
The alleged Reid-Pinnock conspiracy
Allegations are that Reid conspired with Pinnock to have monies paid over to persons connected to Reid and that fictitious ledgers and invoices were created to make the payments appear legitimate. It is also being alleged that several persons connected to Reid were awarded contracts including to provide food for at-risk youth but no services were provided. The money, it is alleged, was still handed over to those persons including his driver and protection officer before being deposited into Reid’s account.
There were also several social media messages between both men that would be put into evidence to prove the Crown’s case, the court was told.
Alleged crime by Reid’s wife and daughter
Reid was entitled to a helper as a minister. The helper’s salary was paid out of the public purse. A debit card was used for that payment. It is alleged that the debit card was taken from the helper by Reid’s daughter Sharelle and funds were withdrawn by automated banking machines.
Mrs Reid is also being accused of collecting $1 million from the helper’s account. The court was told that in total $55 million was defrauded from the CMU and $1 million was defrauded from the Ministry of Education.
It is also alleged that Reid used his office to instruct Pinnock to employ several persons who were connected to him, including his wife, at the CMU.
All five were ordered to return to court on January 23 next year. They were offered bail.