THE People’s National Party (PNP) says the controversial South West St Andrew Trust Limited (SWSAT) in Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller’s constituency is registered as a limited liability company.
The PNP explained that while the trust was formed as a non-profit organisation, it was incorporated under the Companies Act as a company limited by guarantee, on May 8, 2012
“This company is not a regular company as suggested. It is a company which has certain features which makes it a non-profit organisation, and which would not be applicable to a regular commercial entity,” a PNP release said.
“There is no trust deed, as this is not necessary for SWSAT to properly discharge its functions as a non-profit and as permitted by its articles of association,” the PNP insisted.
“As far as I am aware, there was no intention for SWSAT to hold any property in trust for anyone. The mere presence of the word ‘Trust’ in its name does not require SWSAT to have a trust deed. It was and is intended to be a non-profit organisation to do the business set out,” the PNP added.
The release said that the business set out involved “the promotion of art, charity, sports and community development to carry on business solely in the interest and for the benefit of the people of the South West St. Andrew constituency”.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis had stated in her regulatory audit and financial statements assessment of the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ), tabled in Parliament in May this year, that the Cabinet had approved the transfer of 11.5 acres of land owned by the FCJ to the trust in 2012 for sports development construction, although the receiving body was not registered with the Registrar General’s Department or the Department of Co-operative and Friendly Societies.
She said that this made her department “unable to obtain a copy of the trust deed to validate the beneficiary of the trust”.
She also noted that while the Cabinet decision indicated that the beneficiary of the trust was the community in which the land lies (Simpson Miller’s South West St Andrew constituency), the directors were private individuals — Professor Winston Davidson; former MP and attorney-at-Law Abraham Dabdoub; and former head of the National Health Fund Sterling Soares.
“Further, we noted that the title did not include a restrictive caveat to prevent the unauthorised disposal of the property in whole or in part. Consequently, we were unable to determine the terms and conditions governing the transfer,” Monroe Ellis reported.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of Representatives Tuesday that his understanding was that SWSAT was not really a “trust”.
“It was not registered with the relevant agency that would give it a charitable status. There was no trust deed and the $10,000, which should have been paid, was not paid, ” Holness said.
The PNP release said an initial enquiry was made to the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce for the removal of “Limited” from its name, which is a prerequisite for registration as a charity. The application, it said, has not yet been completed.
It said, too, that no application has been made for charitable status as yet, primarily because, based on current activities, that status is not yet needed.
“The use of this form of company for a non-profit organisation is customary in Jamaica, and any experienced legal practitioner would know that and be familiar with the provisions I have mentioned above which differentiates such an entity from a regular commercial entity,” the PNP said.