Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 19th 2015 Contents A14
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 19, 2015
TSTT has found itself entangled in a bogus
award scam with the UK-based group Europe
Business Assembly (EBA) and questions are
now being raised about the legitimacy of the
international "Best Enterprise" and "Best
Manager of the Year" awards bestowed on
the state-run company.
TSTT this month published full-page, full-
colour advertisements featuring CEO Ronald
Walcott posing with the EBA "Best Enterprise"
and "Best Manager of the Year" awards.
Walcott, in the ad, said, "2015 will be a
watershed year for us at Telecommunications
Services of T&T," since this year marks TSTT s
But international journalism watchdogs,
Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo
and The Center for Investigative Reporting in
Belgrade (CIN/CINS), have described the EBA
awards as a "fraud."
In an article titled "Bought International
Awards to Show Off at Home Turf," which
was first published in 2013, the watchdogs
said the "awards are pitched as outstanding
results achieved in a prestigious competition.
However, the reporters from the Center for
Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo and Belgrade
(CIN/CINS) found that lucrative business is
behind the awards ceremonies."
The article said prospective companies are
contacted using a generic e-mail informing
them that they have been selected for the
award. Upon accepting the award the recipients
are asked to pay for the awards and "partic-
ipation in the ceremonies in the amounts of
several thousand Euros."
"The participants shoulder travel and lodging
costs, and pay to take part in the ceremony
and for the making of the award. What pro-
motes a nominee to an awardee is the will-
ingness to accept costs and positive feedback
to EBA s first letter," the article stated. It is
understood that the Best Manager of the Year
automatically accompanies the Best Enterprise
award, the article said.
The article claimed the award, which TSTT
received, costs 4,300 Euros, or roughly
Malaysian journalism watchdog Web site
Fz.com also raised questions about the EBA
when government statutory body Forest
Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) received
the EBA International Socrates Award for the
Best Enterprise (Applied Research and Scientific
Achievements) Award in the United Kingdom
In a 2013 article, Fz.com said, "it is under-
stood that although the recipients did not pay
for the award, they were instead asked by EBA
to pay for the promotion of their companies
that comes together with the certificate."
The EBA, on its Web site, describes a four-
stage procedure for the awards that begins
with preliminary research.
It states, "Professional sociologists, mar-
keting, investment, branding, PR, quality and
ecology experts evaluate the regional leaders.
The research results become the base of the
register for dynamic investment attractiveness
of regional businesses. The register focuses
on European investors and business partners."
Continues on Page A16
Journalism watchdog exposes UK award mill
TSTT sucked into scheme
TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott
proudly displays the
Assembly (EBA) "Best
Enterprise" and "Best
Manager of the Year"
awards in the ads which
the company has been
TSTT-We did not buy the award
Contacted on the matter, TSTT's manager,
media relations and corporate
communications, Graeme Suite, confirmed
that the state-run company, after being
informed via e-mail of its nomination for the
awards, paid a cost for participation in the
awards. However, he denied that the cost was
to purchase the award.
"The costs associated with TSTT's
participation in this programme covered
promotional, administrative and production
expenses and was significantly less than the
sum quoted in online sources. It is also noted
that only after notification of TSTT's selection
for the award did the expenses become
applicable. It was not a cost therefore to
surreptitiously buy an award," Suite said in
response to a list of e-mailed questions about
the award and claims of its fraudulent nature.
He said the award was conferred on TSTT
in December 2014, "however, no
representatives from the company attended
the ceremony. The physical award was
shipped to TSTT's headquarters and
Suite did not provide a cost for the award in
the statement. When pressed, he said was
not at liberty to state the cost, but gave the
assurance that it was much lower than what
was quoted in the article.
TSTT, Suite said in his statement, was
pleased to accept the recognition conferred on
the company by the EBA.
"In accepting the accolade from a Europe-
based entity, one of TSTT's goals realised was
to help make more overseas businesses
aware of the high standard of the technology
landscape in Trinidad and Tobago and
demonstrate the country was very capable of
meeting the needs of foreign businesses.
"This is not unlike other marketing initiatives
the company has facilitated to promote the
country to foreign companies interested in
setting up business in the country," he said.
Suite said it must be noted that the EBA
initiated contact with TSTT, advising the
company that it had been shortlisted to receive
the award and "there was no prior solicitation
from TSTT for such acknowledgement."
He said the EBA outlined its process for
evaluating companies under review in the
Caribbean, which "included recommendations
from their partner members representing areas
of market research, trade and exports, quality
standards, as well as ratings agencies. TSTT
considered it to be indisputable, the EBA's finding
that TSTT commands a strong position in the
national market, good investment rating and
attractiveness, modern management
technologies and competitiveness, among other
He said TSTT "fully accepted the statement by
the EBA's general director, John W A Netting,
that 'TSTT received the Socrates Award for its
outstanding contribution to both residential and
commercial markets in communications
solutions. Not only does their business
management strategy work toward customer
and employee satisfaction, but TSTT also gives
back to the community through extensive social
responsibility efforts. Clearly, TSTT is a company
to watch for in terms of its marketing strengths
and its commitment to social revolution."
TSTT-WE DID NOT
BUY THE AWARD
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