PNM SCANDALS

Budget presentation in Parliament at the Waterfront Complex, Port of Spain - October 10, 2011

Budget presentation in Parliament at the Waterfront Complex, Port of Spain - October 10, 2011

By Clint Chan Tack
October 18 2011 – newsday.co.tt

PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday dropped several bombshells in the House of Representatives, exposing what she described as major corruption scandals which took place under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government.

Persad-Bissessar’s first bombshell was that a $45 million scholarship programme was a “PNM slush fund” and her predecessor Patrick Manning had personally written then Culture and Community Development Minister Joan Yuille-Williams to “please handle quietly” the award of scholarships to certain persons. See Page 5A.

The Prime Minister said the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) had recommended that a forensic audit be undertaken on this programme. In addition, she said this matter would be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Integrity Commission.

Just as parliamentarians were recovering from that disclosure, the Prime Minister dropped her second bombshell, announcing that legal action will be taken against former Udecott chairman Calder Hart, former Petrotrin chairman Malcolm Jones, former UTT and eTeck chairman Prof Ken Julien and other persons who were directors on boards of state enterprises while the PNM was in power.

She rubbed more salt in the PNM’s political wounds when she revealed that six fast patrol vessels which the PNM bought from Australian shipbuilder Austal for $400 million have failed to function properly since they were handed over to the Coast Guard in February, 2010.

As Government MPs pounded their desks as Persad-Bissessar rose to give her contribution to the 2012 Budget debate, Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner declared, “Mash them up PM. Mash them up!”

After criticising Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s contribution and announcing that 27 European Union nations voted Trinidad and Tobago as the best tourist destination for this year on October 9, “in the midst of the state of emergency,” Persad-Bissessar disclosed that Government had evidence that its PNM predecessor had breached citizens’ fundamental rights which were enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution.

Recalling the country was rocked in 2009 by a scandal in which more than $45 million was spent by the PNM on secret scholarships, Persad-Bissessar said the government minister who presided over that debacle “had already (been) hidden in a foreign post away from prying eyes of the media and investigators” and was replaced by current Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald.

Recalling that on December 4, 2009, McDonald had denied the wrongdoings which took place under that scholarship programme and promised an investigation, Persad-Bissessar said, “Of course that investigation did not happen.”

Looking at McDonald, who is now Opposition Chief Whip, Persad-Bissessar said, “I do not believe the Member for Port-of- Spain South would have engaged in such deceit. I do believe that she was misled and in being misled she inadvertently misled the Parliament.”

Noting that Senator Devant Maharaj raised this matter in 2009 with the EOC, the Prime Minister quoted from an October 7 letter which Maharaj (now Transport Minister) received from the Commission.

Government MPs cried “shame, “scandalous” and “criminals” as the Prime Minister quoted sections of the EOC letter in which the Commission raised questions about the selection criteria for the scholarships and use of taxpayers’ dollars in this programme.

“This was a PNM slush fund,” Persad-Bissessar declared as Government MPs thumped their desks.

Reminding Opposition MPs that the EOC, under the chairmanship of Prof John La Guerre, was appointed under the PNM, Persad-Bissessar caused Government MPs to gasp and howl when she said with respect to one scholarship applicant there was a letter from Manning to Yuille-Williams in which Manning asked her to “please handle this quietly.”

“Great is the PNM,” Sports Minister Anil Roberts scoffed.

Claiming that Rowley’s objection to a $50 million allocation in the Budget to the Office of the Attorney General for forensic investigations was because the PNM did not want any probe to take place, Persad-Bissessar said she has instructed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to launch a forensic audit into this programme. In addition, the Prime Minister said this matter will also be referred to the DPP and the Integrity Commission.

After challenging any PNM MP to prove that the EOC’s findings were wrong, Persad-Bissessar startled Government MPs when she said the ethnic distribution of the scholarships was seven percent East Indian and 93 percent non-Indian.

“Not even a dougla?” asked Roberts.When Persad-Bissessar said 11 percent of the scholarships went to persons in Rowley’s Diego Martin West constituency, Rowley warned her, “You’re barking up the wrong tree.”

Noting that last Friday, Manning dared Government to “lock him up” and Hart as well, Persad-Bissessar reminded him that he once told former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday that “jail ent nice.”

She then announced that on October 14, the board of Udecott “authorised the commencement of legal action” against Hart “for fraud, negligence and breach of statutory duty” with respect to the award of a $368 million contract to Sunway Construction Company for not revealing his family ties to that company.

“I wish to also announce that forensic accountant Bob Lindquist has also completed his investigations and has recently handed over his report to the Head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau,” she added.

Sunday Newsday had exclusively reported on June 12 that the Attorney General disclosed he would pursue civil action against Hart.

Persad-Bissessar yesterday said civil action will also be taken against Hart with respect to the award of packages to Hafeez Karamath Ltd for the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.

The Prime Minister did not stop there.

She announced that pre-action protocol letters had been served to Jones and other relevant directors at Petrotrin for negligence and breach of statutory duty with respect to the World Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) project.

Pre-action protocol letters have also been sent to former e-Teck chairman Professor Ken Julien and other former e-Teck board members regarding a sum of $30 million paid to Bamboo Networks of Hong Kong to establish an information technology industry.

Persad-Bissessar’s final salvo was at the $400 million spent by the PNM to acquire six fast patrol boats for the Coast Guard.

Displaying a chart to all MPs, Persad-Bissessar (who is head of the National Security Council), showed that five of the vessels had malfunctioned 72 times since being acquired.

Condemning the Opposition for accusing her administration of non-performance, discrimination and corruption, Persad-Bissessar told PNM MPs, “You have no moral authority. You must first atone for your sins.”

Observing that Rowley was again not wearing the PNM’s trademark balisier tie at yesterday’s sitting, Persad-Bissessar claimed that he had “cut his balisier ties.”

Reminding PNM MPs that ten of them were in Manning’s last administration and were silent when Rowley raised concerns about corruption with respect to Udecott and other matters, Persad-Bissessar advised them to remember the words of former PNM government minister Ken Valley who died earlier this year.

“You can run but you cannot hide.”

http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,149105.html

14 Responses to “PNM SCANDALS”


  • Kamla charges discrimination in schols’ fund
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said a forensic audit is to be carried out into the award of scholarships under the former PNM Government.

    ‘Jail eh nice’
    PM refers scholarship discrimination file to DPP, AG goes after Hart for fraud
    Jail eh nice! Days after former prime minister Patrick Manning dared the Government to lock him up, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar reminded him of his own words “jail eh nice”, while she provided proof that the former Manning-led administration practised discrimination through a secret scholarship fund.

    …’Handle this quietly
    IN A LETTER to former Culture and Community Development Minister Joan Yuille-Williams, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning endorsed the application of a Grenadian national for a secret $28,000 scholarship which was ostensibly meant for locals.

    Govt goes after Calder Hart
    Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in keeping with her Government’s promise to pursue those who have raped the treasury” pre-action protocol letters have been issued to former executive chairman of Udecott, Calder Hart and others.

    …Govt to take legal action against Hart, Julien

  • Didn’t the love for Grenada continue with the giving away of @ least one ‘Summit car’ paid for by T&T’s taxpayers?

  • The chickens are coming home to roost. Let us hope the files do not sit on the DPP desk for another five years. Let us hope he can proceed promptly, as he seem eager to prosecute the father of the boy caught with marijuana. The PNM will learn lesson number # 1. That is don’t mess with a sitting Prime Minister.

  • Thanks to Her Majesty Queen K, we de people are now au courant with somethings we only suspected,but is finally convinced of due to subtle and not so subtle pronouncements close and far.
    These are first , dat T&T, can beat dem upstart resourceless , flying fish stealing Bajan oil/ gas speculators, as well as self opinionated ,egomaniacal , 5000 per year murdering ,criminal minded ,socially insecured Yardee /Jamaicans , as the best tourist place of choice in the region.
    Secondly , dat Uncle Patrick Manning is the epitome of humility ,and caring , for Afrikan folks during the past 40 years of public service,so much so that had no compunction , in spending some $45+ millions,towards government scholarships , but only for their intelligent kids ,that needed it.
    Thirdly , it’s that in contrast ,the Trinidad Private business sector, which is primarily controlled by motivated , hard working Indo Trinis ,provided the same or more than $45 million in scholarship funding , but only for Indo Trini kids, some like CLICO , for Basdeo Panday’s two privileged English Educated daughters -who didn’t need it. Maybe , each and every race , do have an equal place, and more importantly, or country is ladened with some of the most educated minds in the entire region, yes?
    On a more serious note, here is a word of advice, Your Majesty . Most of de people of Jambalaya/ calaloo country , are suffering from corruption fatigue , and so , have absolutely no interest in the day to day shenanigans ,of any of their celebrity , elite leaders ,past or present, who either indulged in inappropriate practices,directly participated in white color malfeasance,or had a callous attitude when it came to others under their stewardship ,close sphere of influence, or close to their heart,so doing.
    Speaking of which ,as expected , I happen see one of your most ardent fans in mamoo , jumping up like if he just won one of our several rigged Charlotte street, or Couva lottery , as he and others ,are anticipating some prison time for de elusive Papa Patrick , but tell him to hold strain , and listen to the words of the Dr Rott Rowley, “you barking up de wrong tree,” he said if I am not mistaken , and I concur.
    Put differently, ‘de ground you are walking on is holy ground,’ so don’t get it out of your mind ,to seriously test the wrath of de people , with this political distraction ,through early 2013 campaigning, jig and dances, as it is bound to fail, hmmmm?
    For the record , the only way Patrick Manning would be putting on any prison blues , to serve any jail time, for any action committed, in or out of office, is if your one time Political mentor, Papa Basdeo Panday , is also sitting right next to him in Golden Grove, due to de selectively outraged AG , getting off his hunches , and wrapping up the outstanding Airport scandal case, hopefully with no interference from dem, anachronistic , Privy Council blokes.
    The last time I check , it was impossible to ‘be half pregnant,’ so your Commissioner Gibbs, and Field Marshall Sandy DURING A SELECTIVELY enforced Sate of Emergency , can run down low end criminals ,of the kinky headed persuasions ,how much they want,then have questionable social scientist experts, erroneously conclude ,dat de government of de day ,is taking a bite out of crime , by getting rid of criminals in our country. This piecemeal approach unfortunately ,won’t hold water, when it comes to a man who served his country valiantly , as many will assert- an maybe justifiably so – that he deserves the same dignity , and respect , that you accorded to … well, fill in the blanks.

    No Uncle Suraj, dis is not a time for no Indian village , Afrikan village, Arab village , Chinese village, or French creole village for dat matter, but how about an elevation of all the still receding ,decrepit villages of T&T , as promised under your government’s manifesto?

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Suruj__Right_time_for_Indian_Heritage_Village-132027413.html

  • Linda Edwards, class of '67

    Another red herring. Where is the documentation of Manning’s doings that match Jack Warner’s Ish’s and Steve’s? Soon as you have that, please present i am not interested in inundo or scandal mongering as a diversionary tactic. Boyth Kmla and manning know their people well, and know how to create headlines to take away focus from the real issue.

    • “Another red herring. Where is the documentation of Manning’s doings that match Jack Warner’s Ish’s and Steve’s”

      Those documents along with many other documents are in the able hands of the director of public prosecution. As you know Linda the DPP office is independent and he can pursue or dismiss on insufficient evidence. It have nothing to do with the Prime Minister. the Judiciary is an independent arm of the state. As our Constitution allows for the three arms of government: the administration, the legislature, and the judiciary. All three functions with a high degree of independence. The former Prime Minister said he did nothing wrong. It is up to the Judiciary to determine if that is true…or not..

      • Linda Edwards, class of '67

        Are you the same Mamoo who attacked the DPP when he released the socalled gang members? Did you recently say he was against the Prime Minister, and now you trumpet his impartiality? How many sides of your mouth do you speak out of? Prosecute everyone found stealing from the revenue system, whether it be by stealing diesel fuel, using “fishing boats” to deliver drugs, running up exorbitant costs for highway and airport constructions,using shoddy materials while charging first class prices, Running a side business selling TnT passports, runing a side businessissuing TnT passorts to non-nationals stealing state ordered hospital equipmeent to equip your privete primary care clinic, JAck warner’s corrupt practices with respect to funds used for bribery,or the mess that was is Calder Hart and Udecott. I stang for good government. in TnT. Let the chips fall where tey may.

        • “Are you the same Mamoo who attacked the DPP when he released the socalled gang members?”

          There was clear video evidence for the world to see that these guys were involved in nefarious activities. The DPP said it was a time issue, before the anti-gang law or after the anti-gang. Well to me in the video these guys are guilty of criminal behaviour you don’t need the gang laws to charge them. If 5 guys come and steal from me and threaten me and it is caught on video plain for all to see, video is the best eye witness there is available right now. Should they walk free??? Surely a man who puts his hand in a car and snatches someone chain is deserving of some jail time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7fSFaqmY8U

  • McDonald questions $200m for legal fees
    Finance Minister Winston Dookeran must explain why Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s department was allocated almost $200 million for 2011 and 2012 to pay legal fees for external assistance, says PNM chief whip Marlene McDonald, “Who is the A-team feeding at the trough of the Attorney General? Mr Minister, you need to explain! T&T needs an explanation!”

    Marlene: No scholarship bias on my watch
    Former community development minister Marlene McDonald yesterday distanced herself from the system described by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar which was used to award scholarships by the PNM government, saying she had completely removed herself from the process.

    Don’t blame me
    FORMER Culture Minister Marlene McDonald, now the Opposition Chief Whip, told Parliament on December 4, 2009, that the PNM’s Culture Ministry scholarship programme “has always been and continues to be open to all”, even though the Equal Opportunities Commission would later find evidence to suggest that the programme was discriminatory against East Indians during the years 2002 to 2007.

    Ex-Udecott official racks up $3m bill
    Former Udecott chief operating officer Neelanda Rampaul accumulated a $3.1 million bill over several months at the Hyatt Regency for cookies, pina colada drinks, pork chops and hotel sleepovers,…

    It was — literally — a feeding frenzy
    One day after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that the State would be suing former Udecott chairman Calder Hart over his tenure at the company, her Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal laid bare more than $3 million in expenses incurred by Udecott staff for services at the four-star Hyatt Regency under Hart.

    Moonilal: Former UDeCOTT executive lived lavishly at Hyatt during Uff enquiry

    Big pay for Udecott staff

    More than scandalous
    When former chairman of the Police Service Commission, Nizam Mohammed sought to count Indo Trini officers serving in the upper echelons of the police corps, the Opposition PNM cried foul, railing against any suggestion of the use of affirmative action to readjust historical ethnic imbalances in the ranks. Yet recent revelations in Parliament demonstrate the party sees no conflict in affirmative action for non Indo Trinis, as the nation learnt Monday when in Parliament, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed a massive and corrupt $45 million plus scholarship scheme used by the former regime from 2003 to 2007 to discriminate against Indo Trinis, denying them the chance to assisted higher education.

  • $15M Missing: AG calls on Integrity Commission to probe awards
    The Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) has raised concerns over the sanitisation of records and some $15 million that was not accounted for in the PNM’s secret scholarship fund.

    AG calls for probe into Commission’s findings

    Ex-PNM ministers say they’re not racist
    Former PNM ministers have asserted that they are not racists, nor did they selectively favour people to receive scholarships during their tenure.

    Anand knocks Rowley on slush fund
    ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan yesterday criticised Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for not focussing on the truth behind a first instance finding of discrimination in relation to the PNM Culture ministry scholarship slush fund.

    Rowley: EOC probe still ongoing

    La Guerre: Report on schol awards not final
    Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) Professor John La Guerre says investigations into the award of scholarships via the Financial Assistance Programme under the former Patrick Manning government are still in progress and there is no final report. This was his response to a request from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on Wednesday for a copy of the report.

    Former Public Service head calls on EOC to explain
    Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas says chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) Professor John La Guerre must explain how a report on award of scholarships was released before the investigation was complete.

    ‘My office inherited $31m debt’: AG justifies $94m allocation
    “The total sum paid in legal fees for the period June 1, 2010 to August 30, 2011 is $45,502,626. Of that figure, however, $31 million went to pay legal bills incurred under the previous administration. A mere $14.7 million was paid for work done under the People’s Partnership Government…”

  • This scholarship scandal is not new. I can remember as far back as the Eric Williams days when many of us graduated from the top Roman Catholic boy’s college in T&T. Some of my friends whose families were PNM or who had connections to PNM officials received “secret” scholarships to further their education.
    It was not viewed as a racial “thing” but as taking advantage of political connections. The recipients are not to be blamed. The PNM should not be accused of racism in this matter, to gain political traction. What should be challenged here is the secret nature of this PNM slush fund and the way it was used to reward party members of affiliates. Obviously the vast majority of the awards went to people of African descent, simply because they are the overwhelming majority in the PNM.
    Similarly, Kamla’s political appointments are mostly Indians since the members of her coalition are mostly of Indian descent. People in T&T are too quick to attribute race to every decision and both tribes are guilty. We should be grateful that we have only two tribes, as compared to Libya with over one hundred.

  • I am no Eric Williams fan , as anyone with a brain ,can guess by now , as I have him down as no different ,than many of our other ,numerous regional , and Afrikan continental ,neo imperialist ,self serving appeasers of others , for personal aggrandizement was in their DNA.
    Surprise , surprise , that wherever they exist , ‘our T&T , sudden triumphalist buddies,’ and cousins ,that escaped the South Asian ancestral enclaves-via the actions of dem conniving British -have done quite well/ thrived, usually at the expense of , … well , fill in the blanks.
    Having said that however ,make no mistake about it , as I would not hesitate to defend his honor , and that of his Afrikan successors, George Chambers, ANR Robinson, and Manning, from the likes of this comedian , who now wishes ,to distort history , due to the actions recently ,of a few , over ambitious idiots, in the Manning administration, whose actions perhaps benefited maybe, a few kids of elitist cronies ,of their bankrupt PNM party.
    Pull any accepted , Social Scientist like Dr Ramesh Deosoran ,Hamid Ganny,or ,Dr Selwyn Ryan, and do any objective survey, and none would ever draw any stupid conclusions, as is being attempted by the destructive , confusion creation ,muckraker, call T-MAN , about educational discrimination ,against Indo Trinis.
    Such utter garbage, that country haters ,such as him and national ingrate in chief, V.S Naipaul, like to give to their Euro gullible friends , in efforts to gain some fake victim hood advantage .
    Quit, while you are ahead T-Man , as you might live to regret the poison seeds, you and your kind are repeatedly attempting to sow in dis country.
    As a follow up, also do a survey, in any of the countries outside of T&T ,your ancestors landed on, as indentured laborers,or those from your-obviously,low caste-that remained in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan , and see where the most educational success occurred , then ask yourself why.
    Do not attempt to pull the wool over gullible folks eyes into naively assuming ,that all the educational successes of Indo Trinis , since 1962 , were only due to them excelling on their own , as many got an affirmative action like push ,amongst other reasons , that has more to do with political shenanigans ,that bordered on corruption.
    By de way , every single comment I made here , is verifiable, and none of us cares , or is even surprise that her Majesty , Queen K, choose to purge the entire country of exemplary Afrikan folks , and replace them with her own cronies, sometimes incompetent ,ardent fans, and the likes. What we wish you had the guts to denounce is Trini Indo Business class you since 1962 have enjoyed the spoils of government in terms of lucrative contracts ,governmental tax breaks , and soft monetary laws, and their refusal to hire even as low as 1% Afrikans in their companies ,though many were qualified .
    Seems that living in Canada ,since 1986 as one oh dem alleged persecuted refugees,’running away from savage , Afrikan genocidal maniacs ,’ did absolutely nothing ,to clean up the dirty minds of you folks, eeeeh T-Man? May you and similar other phonies , find some semblance of relief in your twisted souls, but more importantly, your kids not inculcate the putrid bile ‘you alls,’ tried so desperately to hand down to them as well- especially the females. Wink , wink!

  • Equal opportunity
    ANDRE BAGOO Sunday, October 23 2011

    IN PARLIAMENT on December 4, 2009, former Culture Minister Marlene McDonald waxed lyrical amid a storm of controversy over the ministry’s $45 million scholarship slush fund. She told the recipients of funds to ignore the outcry.

    “Stand proud, stand tall! This Government will not waiver in its quest to guarantee upward social mobility and transformation for all!” she said. The scholarship programme was not discriminatory and had never been. “The programme has always been and continues to be open to all,” the PNM minister said.

    On July 1, 2008, Mc Donald had declined to name the individuals who got scholarships when asked to do so via a question in the Senate. She said this was personal information.

    After the State was forced to release the names under the Freedom of Information Act, Mc Donald declined once more, in her statement to Parliament on December 4, 2009, saying the information was personal. She implied that needy students getting aid would not like to have this fact widely known.

    The stark facts, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission, is that funds were earmarked for students who were not in true financial need. And it would appear that only seven percent out of all the persons who got “grants” under the programme from 2002 to 2007 (not during McDonald’s tenure), were of East Indian descent. In a notification, which the commission itself released this month under an application lodged under the Freedom Information Act, the commission said there was a “prima facie” case of discrimination against East Indians as posed by the programme from 2002 to 2007.

    The commission noted that the programme was not advertised and appeared to be known to some applicants by way of their PNM political connections. “The commission considers that (there is) enough evidence for an inference of discrimination to be made out against the ministry. The complainant in this case has therefore made out at least a prima facie case,” the commission found.

    “The ministry’s not advertising the existence of a scholarship fund but allowing persons of other ethnicity (to access it) did impose a disadvantage upon a significant proportion of the population inclusive of the complainant.”

    Further, scholarships were granted, the EOC said in its report, in breach of the State’s rules and criteria. In one case involving a foreigner, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning asked former Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams to “handle this quietly”.

    The EOC could have ruled, pursuant to Section 34 of the EOC Act, that there was no case to answer. Instead, they found merit in the complaint, filed by the Indo-Trinbago Equality Council, and moved forward with the conciliation process of Section 35. But that process is now, in this instance of a class action complaint, largely symbolic.

    In this country, both sides of the ethnic divide passionately attest to being victims of discrimination. But for the first time, the legally empowered body charged with issues involving discrimination has handed down a major ruling. The EOC ruling against the PNM is in black and white for all to see.

    McDonald cannot escape being implicated by saying she was not in charge from 2002 to 2007, for when she was called upon to account on behalf of her ministry in 2009, she effectively masked the extent of the positive discrimination that was happening all along in secret.

  • Udecott goes after Hart
    The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) is seeking millions in financial compensation from its former executive director Calder Hart…

    Hart’s $3.1m Udecott Waste
    BETWEEN February 2010 and June 2010, a US firm was paid more than $3.1 million to attempt to clean up Udecott’s public image, which had by then been rocked by scandals relating to corruption allegations involving former chairman Calder Hart.

    Joan Yuille-Williams threatens to sue over scholarship issue
    FORMER community development minister Joan Yuille-Williams said yesterday there was no ethnic bias in the awarding of money from what has been called a “secret” scholarship fund. Addressing reports that she was instructed by former prime minister Patrick Manning to “handle this quietly”, with regard to disbursements to certain people, Yuille-Williams said the secrecy was in keeping with her ministry’s protocol of discretion in assisting the needy.

    Devant not surprised over denial
    Transport Minister Devant Maharaj said yesterday he was not surprised at former community development minister Joan Yuille-Williams’ denial of ethnic discrimination in the disbursement of scholarship money from a State fund.

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