PETROJAM’S financial treasurer and budget planner Carlene Evans testified in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Monday that she recalled seeing a disbursement voucher for travel expenses to be reimbursed to former Chairman Dr Perceval Singh for a trip to London, but she did not act on it initially due to discrepancies.
Evans told the trial of two former Petrojam executives — Floyd Grindley, who was general manager, and Singh — that in 2018 when the voucher for the visit to England was submitted for payment, she was acting as chief financial officer in the absence of CFO Delroy Brown, who was in London for meetings with insurers. Those meetings took place between February 25 and March 1, 2018.
The value of the claim for the London trip was US$8,384.21.
Singh and Grindley are on trial for fraud-related charges. Singh is accused of claiming for overseas trips which he did not undertake, while Grindley is accused of aiding and abetting Singh. The claims, which were made between December 2016 and May 2018, amounted to more than US$73,000.
“I first saw the disbursement voucher for London around the 28th of February 2018. The travel date was March 1 to March 6. When the request came in, I observed that the travel date March 1 to 6 was outside of the scheduled date for insurance meetings in London. As a result, I inquired and requested of the general manager to provide clarification about the travel. I made contact with Mr Leon Jarrett, who was with the team, to find out if Dr Singh was in London,” Evans said.
“This was part of my due diligence in handling the payment, and having seen the date of the travel and the receipt I was curious about the whole legitimacy of this request for payment. Mr Grindley was making inquiries about the readiness of the payment due to the delay on my part. The document was in the accounts department and was not acted upon. I did not instruct my staff to act on the payment due to the concerns that I had,” she said.
“Mr Grindley called me into his office and asked me what was the reason for the delay. I pointed to the travel dates and the receipts Dr Singh provided and told him that as far as I was aware, those meetings were already concluded. His response was the he cannot determine when the chairman travelled and it was not his purview not to honour the payment. He pulled some e-mails and showed them to me; it was about the chairman’s participation and the trip to London. Mr Grindley said the payments had to be made. That was the extent of my interaction with Mr Grindley about my concerns. The cheque was prepared,” Evans told the court.
Evans added that in 2018 there was a trip to Brazil that was undertaken by managers. According to her, the marketing and logistics department headed that delegation which included Grindley, Ricardo Neins, and Michael Hewitt.
“Those were the members of the travel team. The assignment in Brazil was participation in the Argus, Rio Crude Oil Conference,” Evans testified.
She said per diem was prepared for Grindley, who received US$120 each day for five days, while Neins and Hewitt received US$100 per day for five days.
“I recall that there was a reimbursement form dated May 28, 2018 for Mr Singh for that trip for airfare. The trip was supposedly from May 22 to 24 that year,” she said.
Evans said that between May and July 2018 “adverse media reports” began to surface.
“In May 2018 the accounts department received two cheques from Mr Singh in the sum of US$8,384.21 and US$7,876.29, respectively. In July 2018 the accounts department received two additional cheques from Dr Singh in the sum of US$4,758.04 and US$3,963.44, respectively. I calculated a total of US$24,978.98 that was paid back,” she said, pointing out that no request was made at that time for the monies to be repaid.
The trial continues today with Evans again in the witness box.