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The Commission of Inquiry Returns after a Four Month Hiatus

The Commission of Inquiry resumed today after being on a four months hiatus. This morning’s session saw the testimony of former UDP Secretary General, Pearl Stuart and the former Chairman of Biscayne Village, Alpheus Gillett. Stuart’s testimony surrounded the acquisition of a 2009 Nissan Navaro pickup truck. Stuart opted to read a pre-prepared testimony prior to responding to questions from the commission. According to Stuart she purchased the vehicle on February 5, 2020 for three thousand dollars as a scrap vehicle that had been categorized as non-serviceable.

Pearl Stuart: “I was advised by my mechanic that the necessary part could be harvested from a 2009 Nissan Navaro, a junk, in the vehicle care unit compound in Belmopan. I’ve adhered to all the procedures which were required to purchase said vehicle as evidenced in the documents contained in the folder.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Can you just confirm for the record what was the price you paid fro the car ?”

Pearl Stuart:  “Three – “

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “And how was that price fixed ?”

Pearl Stuart:  “Uhm I was told that that’s the price and I didn’t question it further. I paid it.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Alright. You were told that was the price by whom ?”

Pearl Stuart:  “It was somebody in the Ministry and to be honest Chairman I do not recall who I spoke to. I don’t know about you but sometimes I can’t recall what I had last week for dinner so.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “Yes I understand. But the long and short of it is that the ministry fixed the price.”

Pearl Stuart:  “That’s the price they gave me yes.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “You didn’t submit a bid for the vehicle ? 

Pearl Stuart:  “I didn’t submit a what ?”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “A bid. A written letter making an offer to the government to buy it for a price.”

Pearl Stuart:  “No sir. A bid ? No sir.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Because according to the files from the Ministry that’s how the whole process was initiated.”

Pearl Stuart:  “Oh.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “You sent an email on Friday 3rd January 2020 at 10:02 AM. And maybe you could confirm if this is yours or not. It’s from PearlStu47@Yahoo.com.” 

Pearl Stuart:  “That’s my email address.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “And it says “Good morning Mr.Vicente I would like to place a bid of $3,000 for the above mentioned Navarro truck.” and the subject was “Bid for Navaro truck license plate BZB 1716.” 

Pearl Stuart:  “To talk to you about recall. I was told that that’s what I needed to do so I guess I did bid for it via that email address.” 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  I understand but the documentation makes it look like the price originated from you.”

Pearl Stuart:  “When one bids is that not what one does? One gives a price?” 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “Yes you make an offer, your determine for yourself what it’s worth and you say what you’re willing to pay.”

Pearl Stuart: “Right.”

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “Is that what happened here ? “

Pearl Stuart: “Well yes.” 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “So it wasn’t the case that you were told what the price was ?”

Pearl Stuart: “Well the    thousand I think may have been mentioned as a possibility.” 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:  “So you were given some guidance on it from the ministry before you submitted your bid ?”

Pearl Stuart: “It’s possible.”

In the testimony of Alpheus Gillett, the line of question was related to the purchasing of a 2010 and a 2017 Great Wall Wingle pickup trucks from the government. The purchases were reportedly made in February and March 2020 with one of them costing him a mere one thousand dollars. Gillett was accompanied by his attorney, Herbert Panton, as he responded to queries from the commission.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Do you recall in or about February and March 2020 buying two Great Wall Wingle motor vehicles from the Government of Belize ?”

Alpheus Gillett: Two Great Wall Wingles? No sir.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: 2010 Great Wall Wingle first on the 2nd March and the month before a 2017 Great Wall Wingle.”

Alpheus Gillett: I recall purchasing a 2010 Great Wall Wingle.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: Let’s talk about that one first but there are records for two. “

Alpheus Gillett: I don’t know of the two sir. What I can tell you is a 2010 white Wingle and all the information I think you have a copy of it. 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: Yes I have a file. It’s a white Wingle but I’d just like you to verify it.”

Alpheus Gillett: In terms of remembering what was the license plate I can’t remember that.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: Do you remember how much you paid for it ?”

Alpheus Gillett: Yes sir.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: How much ?”

Alpheus Gillett: $1,00 Belize dollars. As far as I a can recall I made a bid for it for $600 and the approval came back for $1,000.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry:You’re aware that that was approved to you by Dean Barrow personally, from the Prime Minister or you’re not able to say ?” 

Alpheus Gillett: Was it ? 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: Yes on the 13th March 2020.” 

Alpheus Gillett: I know now sir.

As for the second vehicle purportedly purchased by Gillett, he explained to the commission that no such purchase was made by him. He noted that he did express interest but the purchase was never made.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “A second file was presented to me, to us, by the ministry and again there was a letter supposedly from you and it says and I’ll read it to you and you tell me whether or not it’s, whatever you want to say please feel free to say it I’m just sharing the information with you at this point. It says “Dear Mr.Vicente. I Mr.Alpheus Gillett hereby express my interest in purchasing a black Wingle pickup truck, formally of the police department now parked at the Vehicle Care Unit compound in Belmopan. I am prepared to pay the sum of $500 for the said vehicle.” Do you remember making a second application for a second wingle ?”

Now that you read that to me yes but I didn’t receive that  vehicle and the reason for that is because I didn’t purchase it again and the reason for that is because I found out that that vehicle was gasoline and I wanted a diesel but I didn’t receive that vehicle at all.

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Okay. Are you aware that sale was approved to you as well ?”

Well. If I’m aware it was approved ?

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Yeah on the 4th February 2020 the Honorable Dean Barrow, Prime Minister, approved the sale of that Wingle to you for $500. “

No sir not aware. 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “No not aware of the approval ? And on the 2nd March 2020 ? Well the receipt says the $500 was paid by you where it also says it was paid in cash.”

No sir. 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “Did you pay for the car ?”

No sir. 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “No sir ?”

No sir. 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “The registry confirmed receipt of the money. Could it be that somebody else paid for the car ?”

It could quite possibly be. Is there any record of the vehicle leaving that compound ? Do you have any record of that ? 

Andrew Marshalleck, Chairman, Commission of Inquiry: “That it was approved to be sold to you for $500 ? That the $500 was paid and the vehicle was sold it’s in the list of vehicles that have been sold and disposed of by the government during the relevant.”

I’m in no position to deny that it was approved to me but what I’m saying is that I didn’t pay for any vehicle, I didn’t receive any.”

The 75-minute session is the first to be conducted in four months. The last session was on April 15 when the Director of the Press Office, Mike Rudon pulled the plug during a presentation by the President of the NTUCB, Luis Martinez. The commission reconvenes at one thirty this afternoon. Love Television will carry the proceedings as it occurs.