Questions raised over how Jones’ ‘barbershop’ qualified for SLED grant

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Christopher Jones

Former Director of Sports under the APNU/AFC Coalition Government, Christopher Jones, was released on 100,000 bail. He was arrested at his home where law enforcement officials confiscated a number of boxes believed to contain equipment for a ‘barbershop’ this morning.

The equipment was purchased at a cost of $4.9 million and was paid for under the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme.

Jones has claimed that he had applied for assistance under the SLED programme under the then Ministry of Social Protection and the application was approved.

However, questions are being raised as what process was used to determine that Jones, a senior government official at the time, was qualified for such assistance.

According to the Ministry of Communities website, “SLED works by distributing interest-free cash grants to registered groups and associations, needing the economic boost to improve their economic enterprises.”

Police had applied for a search warrant to gain access to the home of the senior APNU official, after it was allegedly reported that the equipment was at Jones’ Georgetown property.

However, when Police went to the home of the former Director of Sports, in Tucville, Georgetown, they were refused entry and told to get a search warrant. By this time, several APNU officials, including Executives of both People’s National Congress (PNC) and Alliance for Change (AFC), also turned up at the property as Police stood guard.

Jones lawyers are arguing that he did nothing wrong and have accused the police of following political orders.

Meanwhile, the audit report stated that a physical inspection of the assets purchased revealed that items were still not put into use, since these items were stored in a room at the residence of the beneficiary, Christopher Jones.

Further, the audit report stated that details of a letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Social Protection Ministry dated May 22, 2019, states that the items were to be procured for the beneficiary who “operates” a barbershop.

However, at the time of the physical verification, it was discovered that the beneficiary does not operate a barbershop, since the construction of the said barbershop has not yet commenced. (This is a developing story)