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Jamaica: BREACH! – Clarke says state entities’ investment in First Rock not in accordance with public-sector regulations

Two public bodies, the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) and a subsidiary violated government regulations in their $443-million investment in start-up private equity firm First Rock Capital Holdings, the finance minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has disclosed.

Clarke, however, was not definitive when pressed on how the Andrew Holness-administration would hold accountable two state boards for disregarding Parliament’s approved rules in buying the first set of shares in the company in 2019.

Under the 2017 Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act (PBMAA) regulations, a public body must get the finance ministry’s permission before investing in a private company that is not listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

“Prior approval was neither sought nor received … . This would have been contrary to regulations,” revealed Clarke in the House of Representatives yesterday, referencing the US$1 million shares bought by the AAJ and the NMIA Airports Limited in a private placement in February 2019. The shares were split equally.

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