Internacionales

Griego Christian Abreu-Hidalgo//
AAJ Board Being Dissolved Over First Rock Investment

Christian Abreu Hidalgo
AAJ Board Being Dissolved Over First Rock Investment

  Transport Minister Robert Montague says the board of the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) is being dissolved in the wake of the controversy surrounding the unauthorised purchase of shares in First Rock Capital Holdings.   The current board is not the same board which made the share purchases.   However, Mr. Montague said a new board is needed to ensure the entity can move forward.    In making the announcement, the minister said all but two board members of the AAJ and its subsidiary, NMIA Airports Limited, had already offered their resignation “but regardless of that, the board will be dissolved”.    ‘AAJ did not knowingly breach regulations’    Minister Montague said the Airports Authority of Jamaica did not deliberately or knowingly breach government regulations when it purchased shares in First Rock Capital Holdings.   In July, Fnance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke said the purchase was a breach of the regulations of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability (PBMA) Act that required Ministry of Finance approval before investment.   But Mr. Montague said the AAJ board made the purchase based on its investment policy which did not stipulate the types of entities in which public bodies could invest.   “In taking the decision, the AAJ relied on the 2017 Ministry of Finance endorsed policy, which did not include the PBMA 2017 regulations and also its amended 2019 policy which was subsequently endorsed by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service,” he sought to explain.    “Additionally, the AAJ was confident that the amended 2019 policy would have received the non-objection of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, given the nature and relationship of this amendment relative to previous amendment which was made in 2017,” he added.     Mr. Montague also addressed the issue of a possible conflict of interest based on the fact that a board member was also affiliated with First Rock holdings.   “The then chairman, whose brother was director and shareholder in First Rock, recused himself from the board meeting in January 2020, where the decision relating to the IPO investment in First Rock was made,” he indicated.   He further noted that one member of the AAJ board was a minority shareholder in First Rock but he declared the investment and it was determined it did not present a conflict of interest since he joined First Rock after the AAJ‘s initial investments in February 2019 and January 2020.    The minister was answering questions in the House of Representatives regarding the controversial multi-million dollar investment after refusing to do so last week.