PNM wants Commission of Enquiry into deal

By Richard Lord
May 23, 2015 –

TheftThe Opposition PNM is insisting that nothing less than a Commission of Enquiry must be appointed to investigate the award and execution of Petrotrin’s South West Soldado project.

This point was made by St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh during his contribution to yesterday’s House of Representatives debate on a private motion on the project. It was presented for debate by Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon.

The motion called for an immediate investigation into “allegations of impropriety” in the project, which allegedly involved “the illegal advance payment of US$1.25 million that was not in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract.”

The motion also claimed “there was a transfer of US$750,000 into two private bank accounts at Scotiabank, Maraval.”

Deyalsingh said the Opposition would not be satisfied with a forensic audit into the project “but an independent audit or a full-blown Commission of Enquiry.”

He said if a Commission of Enquiry was held witnesses would be able to give evidence on issues such as:

• Who authorised the payment of US$1.25 million?

• Why did Petrotrin bypass its own procurement rules?

• Who authorised a mobilisation fee when the contract provided for none?

Deyalsingh said while the Opposition would like the Petrotrin board to be removed, that was not expected. He said apart from crime and unemployment, the issue of institutional failure was one of the major problems facing the country.

He said that observation was based on recent resignations from certain boards across the country.

Deyalsingh said, “We are seeing it with resignations from the Integrity Commission. No institution in T&T is standing tall and proud. None.”

Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod said the Government was committed to an investigation into the matter and to taking action against anyone guilty of wrongdoing if such recommendations were made.



Ramnarine: No Soldado defence in Parliament

By Ria Taitt
May 22, 2015 –

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine yesterday said that he was not coming to Parliament to defend state-owned Petrotrin in the matter of the South West Soldado project.

“We have come to the House to simply put on the table the facts of the matter… And to say that if there is wrongdoing in Petrotrin or the law has been broken anywhere, we will take the necessary action to correct that wrongdoing”, Ramnarine stressed.

He said anybody who has to face the court would do so.

He said the vice-chairman of the Petrotrin board, Aleem Hosein, had engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers, not the chairman of Petrotrin Lindsay Gillette who recused himself because he was named in the Sunday Express articles which exposed the issue of the illegal wire transfers and other alleged breaches in the failed South West Soldado contract.

“That report from PwC would be submitted to the vice-chairman in June 2015 and I have instructed Mr Hosein that once he receives a copy he is to supply myself, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minister of Finance as Corporation Sole, and if the PwC report reveals that there is wrongdoing in Petrotrin or the law has been broken anywhere, we will take the necessary action to correct that wrongdoing,” he said.

Ramnarine was responding to a private motion filed on the project by PNM Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon in Parliament, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. He said Gopee-Scoon’s motion- in which she called for an investigation by the Joint Select Committee on Energy was now irrelevant as investigations by the police and PwC were ongoing.

He said the matter was reported to the police on April 17, 2015 and that Petrotrin had engaged PwC to conduct a forensic audit in the matter.

“There is no director on Petrotrin Board that is an employee of Pricewaterhouse or is a past employee of PwC,” he said.

Ramnarine said the first time he and persons at Petrotrin knew about the alleged illegal wire transfer was on March 8 when it was revealed in the first report in a series by Camini Marajh.
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