Inquiry backs Brown police investigation
The Commission of Inquiry has come out in support of the ongoing police investigation into former premier Ewart Brown's involvement in two contracts with consultancy firm Ambling that were not tendered.
The contracts agreed with Ambling, which provided services relating to projects including the Club Med implosion and Morgan's Point decontamination, were entered into in 2008 and 2010 and amounted to $3.2 million. In concluding there was evidence of “possible criminal activity” in the arrangement the Commission also found that there were “no coherent records of any services provided” by Ambling despite substantial sums being paid.
Paula Cox, the finance minister at the time, did not approve the initial transaction because the contract had not been tendered, and when giving evidence before the tribunal acknowledged Cabinet approved the arrangement in its “collective responsibility”.
The panel concluded that Dr Brown had negotiated the contract directly with Ambling with no input from the Cabinet Secretary or Permanent Secretary.
Commissioners also formed the view that the contract should have remained with the Ministry of Works and Engineering instead of being moved by Dr Brown to his Tourism and Transport Ministry.
Dr Brown, who was also the Minister of Tourism and Transport at the time of the contracts with Ambling, exercised his right of privilege and did not appear before the Commission.
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