THE National Health Fund (NHF) has dismissed a media report that it was not aware one of its former directors, Lyndsey McDonnough, was a principal in Market Me Consulting Limited when it agreed to partly finance the Jamaica Moves campaign.
According to the NHF, in its response to questions about Jamaica Moves and McDonnough from The Gleaner last week, it did not state, or imply, that its board members were unaware that she was a co-owner of Market Me.
“In fact, all Government of Jamaica-appointed board members are required to declare their interests at the start of the term. Therefore, Miss McDonnough’s co-ownership was known,” said the State entity in a release yesterday.
“The NHF also reiterates that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was responsible for the procurement of the contract for Jamaica Moves and the NHF did not control the procurement or sign a contract with the marketing consultants,” added the State entity.
Late last week, officials of Market Me told the Jamaica Observer that McDonnough had declared her interest in the public relations firm to the NHF board and resigned before any decision was made on its funding of Jamaica Moves.
But on Sunday The Gleaner reported that McDonnough had deceived her fellow directors and had failed to tell them of her connection.
Market Me has been in the eye of a storm since allegations surfaced that one of its directors had a personal relationship with Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, and this led his ministry to funnel millions of dollars in contracts to the firm.
Documents released by the health and wellness ministry last week showed that the company initially made an unsolicited proposal in 2016 for a contract valued at $15.9 million for Jamaica Moves, which was approved.
In May 2019 the ministry extended the contract to the tune of $38.9 million. The health and wellness ministry also reported that it paid a further $13 million to Market Me between March 2017 and July 2020 for services outside of what was agreed in the Jamaica Moves contracts.
The company has vowed to use “all available legal remedies to vigorously protect its work and good name”, which it said have been unfairly and baselessly targeted.
Market Me has also declared that it is prepared to defend its principals against “ad hominem attacks”.
“We can confirm that none of our directors, officers or shareholders is a public official. Like many private sector leaders, our executives have been asked to serve on public boards in the past. However, at no time did any such appointments result in a conflict of interest regarding Jamaica Moves or any other project,” Market Me officials told the Observer.