Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday that the constitutional motion filed by Ishwar Galbaransingh and Northern Construction Limited (NCL) will not halt the probe by police and forensic investigator Bob Lindquist into the airport expansion project.
The motion filed on Monday is asking the court to order the return of the documents seized by the police in the probe and to stop the probe.
The probe was triggered by allegations of corruption in the award of contracts. Lindquist has already submitted an interim report in which he stated that the Piarco Airport Project was a massive fraud against the people of Trinidad and Tobago and a clear abuse of public funds. The Lindquist Report also stated that what had taken place in the Piarco project was consistent with a conspiracy to corrupt the contract selection process beginning in 1996.
Speaking to reporters in Ste Madeleine, Manning said that his Government had anticipated moves to stop the probe and that was why a forensic investigation was initiated along with a Commission of Inquiry. However, he was quick to point out that the Commission of Inquiry into the airport project is yet to be established.
Manning conceded, however, that while the motion may stop some aspects of the probe, he was confident that the two-tired approach to determine the facts of the allegations would still allow room for a thorough investigation.
The motion which was filed by NCL's attorney Devish Maharaj, is listed to be heard on March 19.
NCL, whose directors include Ishwar Galbaransingh, was one of the main contractors on the airport expansion project, estimated to have cost the state in excess of $1.4 billion.
NCL is claiming unlawful and unconstitutional search and seizure of documents at its Point Lisas office by Lindquist and another Canadian investigator, Hans Marschdorf, on January 25, 2002.
The company is also claiming illegal search and seizure of materials by Supt Maurice Piggot and other police officers on January 30, 2002.
Affidavits by other company directors such as Steve Rajpatty, Chief Executive Officer; Amrith Maharaj, Secretary and Financial Director; Mukesh Deokeran and Sahadeo Doona, were among the documents filed in the Registry of the Port-of-Spain High Court by NCL on Monday.
The motion also made reference to an Enquiry which was headed by former judge of the High Court, Lennox Deyalsingh, and in which Deyalsingh was critical of Northern Construction. Deyalsingh's report was later challenged in court by Galbaransingh and subsequently found by Justice Margot Warner in 1997 to be lacking in procedural fairness in making adverse findings and recommendations against Galbaransingh without calling on him.
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