Former Petrojam human resource manager Yolande Ramharrack received a gross separation payment that was nearly $4 million more than the figure disclosed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Sancia Bennett Templer, details of the arrangement have revealed.
The complete settlement brokered between Ramharrack and the state-owned oil refinery last November was made public yesterday amid mounting criticisms of the decision to include a non-disclosure clause.
The agreement showed that the total payment to the former human resource manager before taxes and deductions was $13.3 million.
Holness, in responding to questions in the House of Representatives last Tuesday, gave a different figure.
“From what I am seeing, based upon the settlement … started with a lump sum of $9.05 million, which would be the amount of eight months’ salary,” he said then.
Hours before that, Bennett Templer told the Public Account, Committee (PAC) of Parliament that the former human resource manager was paid $9.2 million.
Under the agreement, Ramharrack, who was facing at least 19 disciplinary charges at the time, walked away with $4.1 million after statutory deductions of $4.1 million and outstanding loans and obligations of $5.6 million – including $5.3 million for a motor car loan. Recoverables of approximately $423,000 were deducted.
The money was paid in two instalments of $3,500,416 and $688,912 on December 7 and 10 last year, according to Petrojam.
Ramharrack, who was hired without the required academic qualifications, was facing disciplinary charges for allegedly utilising her position to cause improper use of Petrojam funds and facilitating improper use of company funds, among other things.
Documents tabled in Parliament yesterday provided a behind-the-scenes look at the exchanges between Petrojam and lawyers for Ramharrack, which culminated in the separation agreement being signed almost three months after the disciplinary charges were formally laid against her.
According to the documents, the former human resource manager was informed of the charges by letter dated August 24 last year. A panel was set up to hear the charges but was unable to do so twice because her attorneys could not be present on those days.
“On October 22, 2018, a proposal for a settlement was made by Mrs Ramharrack’s attorney to include an appropriate release and discharge and a confidentiality agreement. Settlement discussions took place on October 25, 2018,” the documents revealed.
The settlement agreement was signed on November 14 and approved the following day.
Petrojam, in defending the move, saying the legal advice it received indicated that the findings of the performance audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Department did not waive the company’s obligation to comply with Section 22 of the Government’s disciplinary code, which guarantees public-sector employees a due-process hearing.
In addition, the company said a cost-benefit analysis done internally indicated that the settlement amount “$10,079,608” was far less than a potential award by the Industrial Disputes Tribunal of $35.5 million.
Ramharrack’s 19 Disciplinary Charges
1. Utilising her position at Petrojam so as to cause improper use of the company’s funds and or resources.
Facilitating the improper use of the company’s funds and/or resources with respect to:
2. The use of the company’s petty cash on or about December 19 and 20, 2017.
3. The holding of a party held at Half Moon on or about January 8, 2018.
4. The holding of a party held at the Palmyra Palms on or about September 19, 2017.
Dishonesty in that she failed to give a true report:
5. Of her involvement in the arrangements for the party held at Half Moon Hotel.
6. Of her involvement in the arrangements for the party held at Palmyra Palms.
7. Of the breach of the Education Assistance – Tuition Reimbursement policy and in a circumstance when the said breach benefited her.
8. About the circumstances which led to the hiring of a relative, Clayton Smith.
9. Failing to discharge her duties as the human resource development and administration manager in the facilitated breaching of the company’s policies and/or benefited from several breaches of the company’s policies.
Gross negligence and/or incompetence:
10. In that she failed to ensure compliance with several of the company’s policies.
11. In hiring Michon Bell in contravention of the recruitment policy and/or entering into a contract for a period longer than that approved by Ministry of Finance.
12. In that she executed employment letters in clear breach of the recruitment and/or employment policy.
13. In hiring Olivier Cole in contravention of the recruitment policy.
14. In that she failed to secure the personnel file for Delroy Brown.
15. With respect to the handling of the situation concerning the missing personnel file for Delroy Brown.