KINGSTON, Jamaica – When the former Principal of Jamaican College, Ruel Reid was elevated to the position of Minister of Education following the 2016 General Elections, the governing party, led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, was confident that Reid would become one of the most successful Education Ministers the country had ever seen.
Reid was popular among educators in Jamaica, having served as President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) from 2005 to 2016.
But instead of becoming one of the most successful ministers in Jamaica, Reid chose the life of a political criminal in one of the biggest scandals that Jamaica has seen this year.
Allegations first came to light in March when Ruel Reid was accused of corruption and nepotism at the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) of which Reid was responsible.
Following the allegations, Reid was from both the Ministry and the Senate and a full investigation, led by the Financial Investigations Division (FID) and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), was launched against the former education minister.
What Exactly Did Ruel Reid and Company Do?
Investigators have alleged that over $50 million of public funds were diverted to the personal use of Ruel Reid and CMU President Professor Fritz Pinnock through a number of schemes, including one that mirrors the Career Advancement Programme-Youth Employment Solutions.
Reid is also alleged to have instructed Professor Pinnock, among other things, to hire his wife Sharen Reid who was in fact manager of legal affairs at CMU.
Reid’s wife and daughter, Sharelle Reid, who graduated from CMU, were also said to have access to over $1 million on a debit card that was connected to an account at CMU.
The domestic helper of the Reid family, Doreen Miller, was caught in the midst of the scandal earlier this year, but said that the family only used her as a pawn to conduct their criminal activities. She was not among those that were probed and charged by MOCA.
The Councillor for the Brown’s Town Division in St. Ann, Kim Brown-Lawrence, however, was investigated and accused of being awarded a contract from CMU without actually aiding or providing services to the university.
The Charges and Terms of Bail
On Wednesday, October 9, after months of investigation, the houses of Reid, Pinnock, and Brown-Lawerence were searched and they along with Reid’s wife and daughter were taken into police custody. Ruel Reid was charged with breaches of the Corruption Prevention Act (CPA), conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in a public office at common law, and beaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), according to a release from the joint investigating agencies.
The following day, all five were released on bail. Reid was granted bail in the sum of $3 million and ordered with one or two sureties. His wife Sharen was granted bail in the sum of $1 million and his daughter, Sharelle, $500,000. All three were ordered to report to the Matilda’s Corner Police Station every Wednesday and Saturday. They were also ordered to surrender their travel documents and a stop order has been placed against them.
They were fingerprinted and warned them that they should not be seen at the Ministry of Education or the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
Pinnock was given bail in the sum of $2 million while Kim Brown-Lawrence, Councillor for the Brown’s Town Division in North West St Ann, was given bail in the sum of $1 million. Pinnock will report to the Greater Portmore Police Station while Lawrence will report to the Brown’s Town Police Station every Wednesday and Saturday. Both have the same bail conditions as Reid and family.
They are all to return to court on January 23, 2020.