Under fire former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB), Ruel Edwards has admitted to purchasing a vehicle from the state body while under his watch.
Edwards made the startling admittance to THE NEW TODAY newspaper who questioned him on reports circulating in the country that he engaged in insider trading with the purchase of the vehicle from MNIB.
The former Marketing Board boss who is now employed in another lucrative job in the Ministry of Finance told this newspaper that he did not wish to go into details about the purchase of the vehicle in light of the upcoming Commission of Inquiry into the MINB finances as announced by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Asked if the board of directors had approved the sale of the vehicle to him, Edwards said that all the details surrounding the transaction will come out in the clear during the inquiry.
There are unconfirmed reports that the vehicle which is almost brand new was acquired by Edwards for the paltry sum of EC$20, 000.00.
THE NEW TODAY also contacted former chairman of the MNIB Board, Samuel Andrew on whether he knew about Edwards purchasing the MNIB vehicle as CEO of the company but he too declined to comment on the grounds that it was not prudent to entertain any questions on the MNIB situation in light of the pending Commission of Inquiry.
A well-placed senior civil servant has said that Edwards’ purchase of the MNIB vehicle is rather questionable and could be in violation of the rules for the disposal of state assets which should be by means of a tendering process.
In announcing the setting up of the Commission of Inquiry, Prime Minister Mitchell said that MNIB is “in a lot of problems” and that all who are involved in the affairs of the board must take some responsibility for what is happening.
He stated that the commissioners to be appointed will be mandated to delve only into the last five years of the operations of MNIB under the current New National Party (NNP) administration.
Dr. Mitchell told reporters that the wrong doings that are now being exposed at MNIB are “extremely uncomfortable.”
“As you know, I made the decision to take over the Marketing Board late October last year and re-appointed myself there (after the March 13 general election) and we made a dramatic decision of changing the Board (of Directors) of Marketing Board and then we found out a lot of things that we didn’t know or we are finding out some things that we were not aware of and some of them are very frightening and extremely uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable”, he said.
The Prime Minister noted that neither the chairman of the board, the other directors and manager of the state body can’t duck from their responsibilities.
He said that MNIB was set up primarily to put money into the hands of farmers and not to become “another government bureaucracy that satisfies its friends and political affiliates”.
Former Chairman Andrew has since accused Edwards of hiding the true financial situation of MNIB for many years from board members.