By Newsday Reporters
The investigations into corruption at the billion-dollar tax-payer-funded Piarco Airport led to the arrest yesterday of a number of prominent persons associated with the UNC Government. At least 12 persons and six companies are to be arrested for conspiracy under Section 34 of the Larceny Act. Yesterday at least two former officials involved in the Airport contract were arrested at the airport while attempting to board two different aircrafts. One former official was seated with his wife in the BWIA first class lounge awaiting the boarding of BW900 to London when the OCNU (Organised Crime and Narcotics Unit) officials arrived.
Another former official who had left the country some time ago and had obtained citizenship in a Latin American country had slipped back into TT on May 13. He was due to leave last night when he was picked up, also at Piarco Airport, shortly after checking in. His bag tags had to be cancelled as he was whisked away by OCNU officials. A former Minister was also reportedly arrested. No official source would confirm the arrests but there was a lot of activity outside the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain, with heavily tinted cars driving into the compound. At least three lawyers, Russel Martineau SC, Gillian Lucky, UNC Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre and Ian Brooks entered the building and went upstairs to speak with clients. Justices of the Peace Akbar Khan and Hamid Mohammed were seen entering the building but no bail was granted, sources said. All the persons arrested were expected to spend the night at the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Port-of-Spain. Other persons are due to be arrested.
The charges state that the 12 persons and four companies between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2001 "...did conspire unlawfully" together with five other persons (one deceased) and two companies and "other persons unknown" to "obtain contracts and finance or settlements thereunder of a total face value of $1.6 billion...with intent to defraud the Airport Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, NIPDEC, the Govern-ment of Trinidad and Tobago and the public by falsely pretending that the process involved in the obtaining of the said contracts and payments thereunder was open, honest and competitive." In what investigators des-cribed as a "$1.6 billion conspiracy," money was traced to accounts in the Cayman Islands, Miami, Bahamas and local banks. The investigations which were conducted by Canadian forensic accountant, Bob Lindquist began under former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and were accelerated under the PNM administration from 2002.
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