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More charges for Birk Hillman

By Ria Taitt,

The State has slapped ten new charges on Ronald Birk and Eduardo Hillman, consultants on the billion-dollar Airport Project. Sources said Government was currently in the final stage of negotiations for the extradition of the two Americans. Sources said once extradition proceedings are started, one must face only those charges identified in the extradition papers. New charges cannot be added. The sources noted that the State was thus attempting to cover all the bases, by laying these further charges. Attorney General John Jeremie, in confirming the supplementary charges, stated: "I have initiated extradition proceedings against the two accused, and that process is now advanced. Negotiations are ongoing for the surrender of a third accused, Raul Gutierrez. I am working to ensure that this sorry chapter in the country’s history is quickly brought to a close."

Sources said Gutierrez wants to surrender, but wants a guarantee that he would get bail. Sources stated that all these men were under surveillance. The warrants state that the two men are charged with "or suspected of" having between January 1, 1995 and December 31st 2001, "conspired together with" Steve Ferguson, Ishwar Galbaransingh, Amrith Maharaj, Brian Kuei Tung, Raul Gutierrez, Sadiq Baksh, Ameer Edoo, Edward Bayley, Donald Gibbon, Richard Espinet, Baliram Sawh, Birk Hillman Consultants Incorporated, Trevor Romano, Northern Construction Limited, Maritime Life (Caribbean) Insurance Limited, Maritime General Insurance Company Limited, Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company, Calmaquip Engineering Corporation and other persons "to defraud the State of Trinidad and Tobago with a view to financial gain for themselves and others, by dishonestly arranging for certain consulting, design, project management and construction contracts on the new Piarco Airport to be awarded to Birk Hillman, NYC and Calmaquip by:

1) "Manipulation of the tendering process so that the grant of the contract to Birk Hillman, NYC and Calmaquip was pre-determined."

2) "falsely pretending that the said processes were open, honest and competitive."

3) "falsely pretending that the said contracts were fairly priced and reasonable in their terms."

4) "preventing the State through NIPDEC from managing or co-ordinating the said projects, or from having any control over the costs."

5) "failing to require the said NYC to put right faulty workmanship at their expense."

In another warrant, the men are accused of:

6) "agreeing to pay the said Birk Hillman Consultants Incorporated on a monthly basis without any regard to work actually completed, and without certification."

7) "agreeing to pay the said Birk Hillman Consultants training fees which were wholly unjustified."

In yet another warrant Birk Hillman were also charged 'or suspect of' conspiring with the earlier mentioned parties with

5) "falsely pretending that NYC was in a healthy financial state."

6) "falsely pretending that a 100 per cent performance bond was in place at the time of the signing of the contract."

7) "dishonestly arranging for the said contract to be negotiated and signed without it having been submitted to the law officers."

8) "dishonestly arranging for the contract to be signed at the time when it was known that the circumstances of the award of the contract were to be reviewed by a committee under the chairmanship of Justice Lennox Deyalsingh."

The Warrant of Apprehension was issued by a Justice of the Peace to Maurice Piggott, Superintendent of Police. If the men are extradited they will not be granted bail. Charges have been laid against all the other major players in the Piarco project. The charges are the result of a Commission of Inquiry and the subsequent investigations done by Canadian forensic accountant, Bob Lindquist.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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