Former Minister of Works Desmond Bannister took the stand in the Adrian Gibson trial today and insisted he never wrote any directives instructing the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Board to refer all contracts over $250,000 to him. Bannister was shown a document of $700,000 in capital works undertaken by WSC but stated he was not aware of it and it was not approved by him.
He also told the court that documents pertaining to the painting of a WSC building for over $200,000 was not seen or approved by him.
Bannister said when he was appointed minister in 2017, he received a copious amount of handover notes but did not have the chance to read all of them due to the sheer volume.
He stated he was not aware that the minister had to approve contracts over $250,000 and he only knows now after it was brought to his attention by the commissioner of police.
Bannister, who held the ministerial responsibility for WSC during Gibson's tenure, clarified that all entities under his purview had a reporting board. He highlighted that policies were set by the board, and the chairman would subsequently inform him.
Bannister also revealed that his personal email was utilized for WSC business communication, despite having a government email account.
Denying any recollection of issuing directives to the WSC board on policies, Bannister maintained a stance of non-involvement at the operational level. When questioned by defense attorney Damian Gomez, Bannister emphasized that there were no specific qualifications for individuals obtaining painting contracts, and recommendations could come from various sources, including ministers, the chairman, permanent secretary or corporation professionals.
Gomez pressed further, asking if it was unusual for a person to receive contracts and then subcontract the entire work.
Bannister acknowledged that this was not uncommon. He reiterated that he had neither sought nor received recommendations from the board for contract approvals over $250k, emphasizing the independence of the board in running the corporation.
Despite cross-examination attempts to establish awareness of the ministerial approval requirement for contracts exceeding $250k, Bannister maintained his stance of being unaware during that period.
In reexamination, when presented with a document detailing amounts over $500k, Bannister insisted it was not referred to him, including a $290k-plus contract for the painting of water tanks.
Adrian Gibson is accused of failing to disclose his interests in contracts, with prosecutors asserting he gained over $1 million from contracts awarded to Elite Maintenance and Baha Maintenance and Restoration.
Allegedly, he laundered these funds through property and vehicle acquisitions, with assistance from individuals including Elwood Donaldson, Rashae Gibson, Joan Knowles, Jerome Missick, Tonya Demeritte, and Peaches Farquharson.