KINGSTON, Jamaica – Dark days for former sate minister Kern Spencer began late Tuesday evening when the People’s National Party member was arrested and charged by police for his role in the controversial Cuban light-bulb project.
Spencer spent the night in police lockup and will have to remain behind bars until Thursday, when he is booked to appear before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s court. It is expected that a bail application will be made on his behalf then.
Spencer has been slapped with seven charges. He is facing three charges of conspiracy to defraud, one charge for breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act, and three charges for breaching the Money Laundering Act.
Also charged are Rodney Chin and Coleen Wright. Chin is facing two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of breaches of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Wright, a supervisor at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica who also worked as Spencer’s personal assistant, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one for breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act, and four money-laundering offences.
A person who is convicted of breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act faces a fine of up to $1 million and or imprisonment of a term not exceeding two years.
A breach of the Money Laundering Act, which involves the transfer of property from Jamaica to overseas, of which Spencer is accused, could bring jail time of up to five years, and a fine of up to $1 million.
Chin, 44, is the managing director of Universal Management and Development Limited and Caribbean Communications Media Network Limited. While Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green addressed journalists on the charges last night, detectives sneaked the embattled member of parliament and Chin through a side door of the Organised Crime Investigation Division building, all this to escape glaring camera lens.
Earlier, Wright had been whisked out of the OCID building by police officers and taken away in a waiting service vehicle. As the police took her away, Wright hid her face with a black cloth which she later buried in her lap as she took her seat on her way to jail.
Last night, Deborah Martin, one of Spencer’s attorneys, said they had initiated contact with the police after hearing that he had been charged.
“We heard and we brought him in,” Martin told The Gleaner as she left the OCID building last night.
Patrick Atkinson, Spencer’s other counsel said: “There is far too much press on this case.” He said also: “This is a witch hunt.”
Prior to his arrest, Spencer was seen walking in downtown Kingston in the company of Martin.