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Ancien 09/10/2011, 00h29
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Par défaut Pravind Jugnauth’s 26th September 2011 incriminating MedPoint statement to ICAC

Pravind Jugnauth’s 26th September 2011 incriminating MedPoint statement to ICAC

« All Ministers, whether they be in or outside Cabinet, are responsible for their personal acts, the general conduct of their Departments and acts done (or left undone) in their name by their Departmental officials. [..] Ministers are legally responsible in their private capacities for acts which they order or authorise to be done, or in which they actively participate », de Smith.


Pravind Jugnauth arrested and charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act

In the article « MedPoint : Pravind Jugnauth incrimine Rashid Beebeejaun dans sa déposition à l’ICAC » published on 5th October 2011, l’Express kindly attached in pdf format, the full statement given by former Finance Minister and leader of the now MSM opposition to the anti-corruption watchdog the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on 26th September 2011, statement taken by Mr C Ghoorah, Director of Investigations. Instead of justifying his actions or lack of action, when he was Minister of Finance, which led ICAC to provisionally charge him on 22nd September 2011 with conflict of interests under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 2002 (PoCA), as amended in 2006, in the MedPoint « tainted » deal in which, on 23rd December 2010, he authorised the payment of Rs144.7m to the Jugnauth/Malhotra family-owned MedPoint unused clinic in the context of government’s policy by Cabinet decision to create hospitals for children, women and the old, Pravind Jugnauth (PJ) tried to incriminate Rashid Beebeejaun, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities under Section 7 of PoCA for « using his office for gratification ». PJ’s argument is based on the fact that Beebeejaun owned shares in MedPoint Ltd through the Société MedInvest of which he is also the Gérant and that he failed to disclose his interests to the Cabinet which deliberated on the said hospital projects, in particular MedPoint for the purpose of a Geriatric Hospital, on 18th June 2010, while he (PJ) withdrew from that Cabinet Meeting after (verbally?) declaring his interests while Beebeejaun remained. (PJ’s statement, folios 10106-7). Can PJ prove his innocence in the decisions he took in the MedPoint transaction by attacking Beebeejaun, even the Cabinet, ICAC or the Police, or is he incriminating himself in the process? This is a matter solely for the Mauritian Supreme Court of Justice.

Cabinet is not a Public Body
In fact, the Cabinet is not a Public Body. Section 13 of PoCA does not require for such interests to be declared to the Cabinet, but « in writing » to the relevant Public Body if the Public Official (who is a member of that Public Body) or a relative or associate of his, own more than 10% of the issued share capital in the company or undertaking under consideration, namely MedPoint Ltd. Deputy PM and Minister Rashid Beebeejaun owned less than 1% (not > 10% as required under Section 13) of the shares in MedPoint Ltd via MedInvest, and neither Beebeejaun as a Public Official nor his Ministry as a Public Body was involved in any decision and/or procedure relating to the government purchase of MedPoint Ltd. It follows that no charge of « using his office for gratification » can be levelled against him under Section 7 either. Also, PoCA does not require for the Minister to withdraw from any Cabinet meeting. This begs the question whether PJ withdrew from the Cabinet meeting of 18th June 2010 so that he can use it as an alibi and refer to it in his ‘defence’ to justify his future involvement in the « tainted » MedPoint deal.

How did PJ « come across » listing of major government projects?
In folio 100102, PJ said « I came across a document listing out projects and corresponding funding from proceeds of the National lottery. From the document I noticed that there were three projects for the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life (MoH) ». How did PJ « come across » that document listing those projects? Since those projects came under the Health Ministry, was he not officially informed about them by Health Minister Maya Hanoomanjee so that he may make the necessary financial provisions for them? Why did PJ send his personal Senior adviser Dowarkasing (who he employed on a contractual basis), rather than one of the Directors in the Finance Ministry, to the crucial Ministry of Health Committee (held on 8th July 2010) presided over by Hanoomanjee when Medpoint was discussed, just one day after she announced the setting up of a Bids Evaluation Committee (on 7th July 2010) to ‘study’ the 4 offers received, including one from MedPoint Ltd which offered to sell for Rs148.5m? Why did Maya Hanoomanjee, the very next day, personally sign the letter dated 9th July 2010 addressed to Pravind Jugnauth, requesting a provision of a round-up figure of Rs150m for the Geriatric Hospital Project, rather than let her Permanent Secretary sign the letter after taking cognisance of the facts, per normal procedure? Was the tender of 30th April 2010 or the provision request of 9th July 2010 « taylor-made » for MedPoint ? [Ref. Weekend 27 March 2011 - « La position de Maya Hanoomanjee devient de plus en plus délicate… »]. What do such apparent serious anomalies have to do with the Cabinet deliberations of 18th June 2010 which PJ has been distracting people with through his political campaign throughout the country and in the media for so many weeks?

In folio 100105 PJ averred « I am now waiting for you Mr Ghoorah Director of Investigations, to give me lawful authority to refer to Cabinet matters to defend myself against offences mentioned in your letter dated 15th September 2011 » when he knows fully well that ICAC has no authority to allow him to divulge Cabinet deliberations protected under the Official Secrets Act, irrespective of whether or not they concern national security. However, PJ does not explain why he felt it necessary to withdraw from the Cabinet meeting of 18th June 2010 when the issue of MedPoint Ltd for the purpose of the Geriatric Hospital was allegedly raised, when PoCA does not require him to withdraw from such meeting, but he did not judge it necessary to withdraw from all decisions and procedures relating to that project in his own Public Body when he was Finance Minister, as required by PoCA. Is this not, in itself, a confession?

Conclusion
Stanley de Smith, the Constitution Guru clearly states that « All Ministers, whether they be in or outside Cabinet, are responsible for their personal acts, the general conduct of their Departments and acts done (or left undone) in their name by their Departmental officials. [..] Ministers are legally responsible in their private capacities for acts which they order or authorise to be done, or in which they actively participate. » In other words, Ministers cannot use the Cabinet as an alibi or blame the Cabinet for their own decisions of lack of decisions.

The ICAC investigators have acted professionally and with integrity. There is absolutely no indication that they have been influenced by anyone in their decisions to proceed to the arrests and charging, under PoCA, of those former Ministers, namely Maya Hanoomanjee and Pravind Jugnauth, and Civil Servants, such as No.1 valuer Yodhun Bissessur, involved in the MedPoint scandal in which an amount of Rs144.7m, increased form an original valuation of Rs75m within a few weeks, was paid to the Jugnauth/Malhotra family-owned MedPoint upon signature of the contract on 29th December 2010, just in time to benefit the owners of MedPoint a further Rs22m in Capital Gains Tax which would have applied from 1st January 2011. The ICAC investigators merely have to establish a prima facie case against each and every person. ICAC is not a court of law. It is up to the Mauritian Judges in Mauritian Supreme Court to weigh the evidence, which is abundantly clear in this case as who the responsible parties are, and arrive at their own conclusions. ICAC can hold its head high and the world should learn from them.

M Rafic Soormally
London
7 October 2011
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Ancien 12/10/2011, 07h21
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