JO - The European Commission needs to look at RIU
The European Commission needs to look at RIU
Sunday, May 11, 2008
When allegations of bribery by Holland-based Trafigura Beheer surfaced, the Dutch Government elected to launch its own investigation, mindful that the European Commission has strong laws against transnationals corrupting local officials.
We have no evidence that the Spanish-owned RIU Hotel has bribed any local official. However, we believe that the suspicious circumstances under which the RIU Hotel is being built at Mahoe Bay near Montego Bay, St James warrants attention from the European Commission, if not the Government of Spain.
The Jamaican Government has acted against the former superintendent of roads and works for the parish of St James, Mr Tubal Brown, who has been interdicted at half pay by the Parish Council Services Commission, for failure to account for how his signature and the St James Parish Council stamp got onto an unapproved building plan, in Spanish, and which is being used to construct unapproved fourth floors at Mahoe Bay.
So serious is the business that the prime minister - who, ironically was instrumental in exposing Trafigura - instructed that the Police Fraud Squad be called in to investigate the RIU affair, because the new building plan did not go before the Council and no fees were received by the local authority.
For reasons best known to himself, Mr Brown has opted to keep quiet about this transaction. But he is not alone in this matter. The beneficiaries of his action are the RIU Hotel and they cannot escape their obligation to come clean on what business they had with Mr Brown.
It does not help that Jamaicans are aware that the RIU Hotel has had run-ins over alleged building breaches in other countries. The online publication, CafeCancun.com reported that the chain was recently fined more than US$3.5 million for building an entire hotel without permission as an annex to a new hotel in Cancun, Mexico for which they did have permission.
"The local federal environment director was relieved (of his job) amidst accusations that he had taken bribes in this and other situations," said the publication, which gives news, opinions and advice about the Mexican resort.
Of course, RIU Jamaica has sought to deflect attention away from its breaches of the building permit approved by the St James Parish Council, the National Environment and Planning Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority.
It is seeking to put the blame on the Observer. For the record, this newspaper received reports about breaches of construction hours by RIU at Mahoe Bay, after neighbouring hotel guests complained bitterly about the noise. Suspiciously, RIU refused to allow our news teams, on two occasions, to see behind the Fort Knox-like security walls.
Upon investigation, we found that there was an even graver danger, as it also breached height restrictions on buildings being constructed in the flight path to the Sangster International Airport. Had we not exposed this danger, we would have failed in our duty as a serious national newspaper. For that we make no apologies.
RIU's statement this weekend seeking to explain away all the breaches is further proof that they don't think Jamaicans are intelligent human beings. In time, we are sure, they will find out that we are a far cry from the Tainos and Arawaks who naively greeted Christopher Columbus in 1494.