By Earl Manmohan
Attorney General Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described the Newsday's exclusive exposure on Wednesday on the Robert Lindquist report on the Piarco airport project as "posing a threat to the due process of law".
In addition she said it could also pose a threat to the proper prosecution of the matter and to compromise and prejudice the investigations now being carried out by the Integrity Commission. The Lindquist report said that the development project at Piarco was a fraud on the public of Trinidad and Tobago and an abuse of public funds. Lindquist said his findings were consistent with a conspiracy to corrupt the contract selection process for the unjust enrichment of "players" and of defrauding the various state agencies of considerable funds. It mentioned price fixing and bid rigging, false invoicing among other things.
A copy of the report was sent to Prime Minister Basdeo Panday in January this year but no further action was taken by him.
The Commission has requested Lindquist to appear before it to clear up certain issues, but he is not likely to do so until after the December 10 General Election when Persad-Bissessar gives the all clear for him to come.
Noting that the report was an interim one, Persad-Bissessar who was speaking at a UNC political meeting in Dow Village, California in the Couva South constituency said the newspaper carried only selective parts of the report.
She told the crowd that the story carried no writer's name but they knew who wrote it.
Persad-Bissessar said the publication of the report was an attempt "to distract us from the real issues that confront the electorate at this time".
"Why did they choose only some parts of the report and leave the other parts out, because your aim is clear. Your aim must be clear, your aim is to get people to draw the wrong conclusions and to distract people of this country from the real issues that confront them," she said.
She noted that it was so important to know that somebody had the report months ago, but only now that it was election season, somebody leaked it to the Newsday.
Persad-Bissessar said there was nothing in the files at her Ministry about the terms of engagement of Karl Hudson-Phillips QC who worked with Canadian forensic investigator Robert Lindquist in his investigations and report.
"There is nothing about a contract to Karl Hudson-Phillips or Robert Lindquist. Nothing, but the report today is an interim report and so millions of dollars have been spent on this report, but it is incomplete, it is interim."
As a result she said she had written Hudson-Phillips and Lindquist asking them to send her their terms of engagement, the contract under which they were hired in order to deal with this particular project. She had also asked Lindquist to explain how and why it was only an interim report.
She wanted to know whether the contracts went through the Central Tenders Board, and said she had written to the Director of Contracts of the Central Tenders Board asking them to tell her how many bids were received, how many persons put in a tender to deal with this issue, what was their bid and how Hudson-Phillips and Lindquist were chosen to deal with this report. She asked: "How were they chosen, was it somebody tell somebody friend and say do this report for me or was it done in accordance with the Regulations and the Law of this country?
The Lindquist report raised questions about a "ghost" company owned one hundred percent by Birk Hillman, consulting contractors of the airport which was a one man show with no phone, no employees and which was incorporated just prior to the start of the airport project.
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