Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2014 Contents A3
December 21, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
There are conflicting stories surrounding
the payment of over two million dollars
for work on two community centres in
east Port-of-Spain that never got off the
McEachrane s Rental and Transport Serv-
ices was paid three cheques totalling over
$2.7 million from February to May 2010,
for work on the Bon Air Gardens Commu-
nity Centre and the Marcano Quarry Com-
munity Centre, in Laventille, but no work
was ever done.
The owner of the company, Victor
McEachrane, was awarded both contracts
under former minister of Community Devel-
opment Marlene McDonald. His name is
also listed as a director of another organ-
isation, the Calabar Foundation, which also
received another $375,000 cheque in May
2010. The company, however, was only
legally registered three months later in
August 2010, and that cheque was cashed
by September 2010.
Calabar Foundation also has two other
directors, Michael Carew who has been
described as McDonald s common-law hus-
band of 20 years and his brother, Lennox
McEachrane, in a telephone interview
with the Sunday Guardian, confirmed that
he and McDonald have been friends since
their time together at university.
While McEachrane has defended the pay-
ments as "mobilisations fees" and stated
that he signed the contracts "some time in
May," the former technical director of the
Self-Help programme under the Ministry of
Community Development, Etienne Mendez,
said that up until he resigned on September
2, 2010, the two contracts were not awarded.
Mendez was responsible for the con-
struction of community centres from 2007
to 2010 under McDonald.
Mendez, in a telephone interview yes-
terday, said it was unclear how a contractor
could have been paid for the projects without
a formal award in place.
"We did identify sites for those two com-
munity centres, but no contracts were
awarded up until I demitted that post in
September," Mendez said.
He said no company should be paid a
"mobilisation fee" unless it was awarded a
MP for Port-of-Spain East Marlene McDonald
has accused a former PNM politician of colluding
with external forces in a bid to ruin her political
McDonald, who has been gagged by her legal
advisers, responded to two incidents that recently
surfaced in the media, allegedly accusing her of
"Collusion and a witch-hunt, that is what this
is," McDonald said in an interview yesterday with
the Sunday Guardian.
In a letter directed to party leader Dr Keith Rowley
two weeks ago, a supporter claimed that McDonald
was accused of misconduct during her time as min-
ister of Community Development because a cheque
was issued on May 12, 2010, to a company that was
registered three months after that date.
The company, Calabar Foundation, lists three
directors, Michael Carew, Lennox Carew and Victor
McEachrane. Carew (Michael) has been described
as McDonald s common-law husband of 20 years
and McEachrane as a friend from her university
"I have never owned any foundation," McDonald
McDonald s name is also mentioned in a 2011
audit report into Lake Asphalt T&T (Latt). The audit
report contains concerns about the review of con-
tracts and conflicts of interest in that company, as
a senior Latt official is alleged to have told a company
in 2007 to make a contribution to a foundation
McDonald had in order to get more Latt jobs.
When asked if that was the same Calabar Foun-
dation, McDonald repeated that she never owned
"I was approached by a client at the time to form
a company and used my name as secretary to incor-
porate the company. The year later, by 1999, my
name was removed. What is this silly story even
about?" she asked.
She said she was not aware that Attorney General
Anand Ramlogan had signalled his intention to
investigate the Lake Asphalt matter.
"The AG is free to do whatever he wants. There
is a lot more to look at in his own party and that
is where he should be looking, but everyone will
want to jump on the bandwagon now," she said.
"I have lived my entire life above board," McDonald
No construction of community centres in Bon Air, Laventille, but...
Contractor gets $2.7m
The cheques contain two signatures of
the then permanent secretary Angela
Jack and deputy PS Hermia Tyson-
Jack, in a telephone interview on
Wednesday, added another element to
the unfolding story when she claimed
that she had no recollection of those
"I left the ministry in August 2010 and I
cannot recall those cheques. It was years
ago. I suggest you contact the ministry
and ask them for the invoices that led to
the payment," Jack said.
The current PS at that ministry, Victor
Jones, was unable to assist.
Jones, the Sunday Guardian was
informed, is in the position for one
month up until January 2015 and could
not locate the relevant documents.
But head of the Public Service, Reynold
Cooper, shed some light on how cheques
to contractors are paid.
"Yes, the PS is the accounting officer
for the ministry but they work closely
with the minister and cannot issue a
cheque without the minister's say-so,"
"The PS takes instructions from the
minister," Cooper added.
WHO CHECKS THE CHEQUES?
Despite Mendez's claim that no
mobilisation fees could be paid unless a
contract was formally awarded, the
owner of McEachrane's Rental and
Transport Services, Victor McEachrane,
was paid $2.3 million and another
$400,000 towards the mobilisation for
construction on the Bon Air Community
Centre and another $50,000 towards
mobilisation for the Marcano Quarry
The question is, where has the money
McEachrane has denied any
wrongdoing in the matter and maintains
that he was paid that money to mobilise
workers and pay security for the two
projects. McEachrane was also the
contractor behind the Sea Lots
Community Centre, which was delivered
days before the 2010 election.
Yesterday, McEachrane said though the
two projects were tendered, no company
wanted the jobs because of where they
were located. He said the $2.3 million
payment represented a percentage of
the actual cost of the contract.
"The money I was paid did not end up in
my pocket. After taxes, that $2.3 million
was only about $2 million and that was
to mobilise workers for the community
centres," McEachrane said.
He claimed that after the 2010 election,
the People's Partnership stalled the two
McDonald was the minister from 2007
to May 2010.
"I cannot answer any questions on
Calabar Foundation or why it got a
cheque before it was registered,"
"I was only asked to be a director on a
charity foundation but I never had
anything to do with that," he said.
MCEACHRANE: I AM INNOCENT
former PNM politician
Meanwhile, Rowley continued to support
McDonald's bid for re-election to the Port-of-Spain
East seat next year.
He said he was not surprised that the AG was
planning to investigate the matter and he was
leaving it up to McDonald to respond accordingly.
"If the response is inappropriate then we will act,"
Rowley said he was aware that some people
"hated" that McDonald was re-selected for her
"But that is their point of view, we are satisfied
that we have chosen a proper candidate and until we
are convinced otherwise, she shall remain," he said.
WE ARE SATISFIED WITH
Attendees at the
for the elderly
pose for a
Dr Keith Rowley
during the event
at Balisier House,
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