By FRANCIS JOSEPH
THE United States Government is coming after several persons who were involved in the controversial Piarco Airport Terminal Development Project. Two of the persons are Ishwar Galbaransingh, of Northern Construction Limited (NCL), and Steve Ferguson, of the Maritime Group of Companies. The US is planning to seek the extradition of these persons to face possible charges there.
According to reports, the Grand Jury, sitting in South Florida, has been investigating reports of alleged fraud and money laundering. During the investigations, a link was made to the Piarco Airport Development Project.
Newsday was reliably informed that both Galbaransingh and Ferguson are aware that there is an investigation in the United States and that warrants will soon be issued for their extradition to the United States to face charges.
As a result of the information received, Galbaransingh and Ferguson met with their lawyers last week in Port-of-Spain to discuss the matter and to seek to pre-empt any attempt to extradite them. Three attorneys have been hired to find a way of avoiding their extradition to the United States.
The investigations began months ago by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of the Homeland Security Department.
The investigators were looking into the Vargas Drug Cartel in Colombia and possible links to the United States.
During the investigation, the Americans discovered the name Calmaquip and a connection to the Piarco Airport project. As a result, the Americans executed a search warrant on September 14 on Calmaquip’s offices in South Florida and seized documents and computers.
The Americans are investigating reports that some US $30 million was allegedly laundered out of the Piarco Airport project through the US and international bank accounts of Calmaquip. They are also investigating another report that Calmaquip may have defrauded ten Florida banks of US$23 million during a certain period.
The details of the investigation formed part of the Grand Jury hearing. During that hearing, which has so far lasted several months, several nationals of Trinidad and Tobago were questioned and their evidence recorded.
US sources told Newsday on Friday that the Grand Jury is about ready to hand down the indictments and that warrants for the arrests of several Trinidadians should be issued by the end of October.
The Grand Jury hearing is the latest in the saga of the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport Terminal Project which was initiated when the UNC was in office.
Galbaransingh and Ferguson were among eight persons charged in 2002 with corruption arising out of the same project. The preliminary inquiry, which began more than two years ago, is still in progress.
More charges were laid in 2004 against 11 persons, including three Americans.
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