Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 4th 2016 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Friday, November 4, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 3RD NOVEMBER, 2016
The Government has initiated legal action
against nine former officials of the Housing
Development Corporation (HDC) on alle-
gations of corruption during their tenure.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian hours
after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley revealed
that the lawsuit had been filed on Wednesday
afternoon (See page A6), Attorney General
Faris Al-Rawi said it was the first to arise
out of extensive audits and investigations
ordered by the People s National Movement
(PNM) Government after assuming office in
September last year.
"In this particular matter there are nine
defendants, including public officials and
persons who have had control of certain
entities of the State.
The nature of matters surround the core
of corruption, unjust enrichment, the breach
of certain duties but it is squarely designed
to tackle corruption, mismanagement and
to ask people to account for what they have
done," Al-Rawi said.
While Al-Rawi repeatedly said he could
not reveal the parties named in the lawsuit
and the wrongdoing they are alleged to
have committed as the case was at a sen-
sitive stage, the T&T Guardian under-
stands it involves former officials of HDC,
a State-run company which falls under
the Ministry of Housing.
"You would know that some time ago I
also made a commitment not to do what
my predecessors had done, which is to give
chapter and verse and campaigning in relation
to litigation really because we are adamant
that due process ought to be followed and
that the courts will be the ultimate arbiter
of the matters which are under investigation,"
Though he was tight-lipped on the issue,
Al-Rawi did admit the lawsuit was a multi-
million dollar claim.
"It involves several hundreds of million
of dollars in transactions which is under
position and there are damages requested
on top of that," he said.
Al-Rawi also said the same approach used
in the case would apply to officials of his
Government, in the event they were similarly
accused of corrupt activities.
"Understand this, the approach this Gov-
ernment takes is if you find wrongdoing in
your own Government it will be dealt with
in equal measure. Corruption and misman-
agement is something I think does not know
boundaries," he said.
He also expressed optimism over the Gov-
ernment s chances of succeeding in the case,
which is yet to be listed by the Judiciary for
"I can tell you that we are absolutely
certain and very confident in what we have
brought in the courts already. We are also
very confident that the other matters we
have in gear will be managed very shortly,"
In addition to the civil claim, Al-Rawi
revealed that criminal prosecutions may also
arise from the Government s investigations.
"You would have heard Minister Stuart
Young and I both speak that there are some
matters we will have control of and some
matters that are beyond our control, meaning
that they are in prosecutorial hands of the
T&T Police Service (TTPS) and Office of
the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP),"
In December last year, HDC chairman
Newman George and the corporation s board
decided to send its then managing director
Jearlean John and six senior managers on
administrative leave to facilitate an audit.
In April, the seven officials contracts were
terminated by the board but the results of
the audit were never made public. John and
some of the dismissed managers have sued
for wrongful dismissal.
The T&T Guardian was unable to confirm
if John and the managers were among the
nine officials subject to the lawsuit as a legal
source close to them said none of them had
been served with any court documents up
to late yesterday.
HDC audits find evidence of wrongdoing
AG goes after
Emile Elias NH International (Caribbean) Ltd
has been selected out of 12 local and international
entities for the People s National Movement Gov-
ernment s first Public Private Partnership (PPP)
NH International landed itself a $145 million
contract for the Housing Development Corpora-
tion s (HDC) new Mahogany Court housing devel-
opment at 72 Eastern Main Road, Mt Hope.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley turned the sod
yesterday afternoon for the two-year project which
is scheduled to start at the end of December.
Responding to questions about his and Rowley s
public friendship and whether it may have influ-
enced the tendering process afterwards, Elias said
he was told his tender was the lowest by a long
"If you ask the HDC maybe they will release
the prices and you will know why we are getting
the job," he said.
As for his friendship with the PM, Elias said:
"I support good governance and I have a lot of
confidence in Dr Rowley s integrity and leadership.
So I think we are in safe hands."
Elias said NH International, which is providing
all the financing for the project, secured the money
from First Citizens.
Also questioned about whether Elias friendship
with Rowley may have influenced the tendering
process, Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said
the process was very fair.
Saying Price Waterhouse was the consultant,
Mitchell said: "With respect to this particular
project, the HDC completed a design/build/finance
tender and after thorough review NH International
(Caribbean) Ltd was selected as the preferred bid-
"This particular project is estimated to cost $145
million and negotiations for the start of the project
should be completed by December this year."
Mitchell said payment to the contractor would
come from the proceeds of the sale of Mahogany
Court s 160 units through mortgage arrangements
facilitated by the T&T Mortgage Finance Company.
He said the HDC would still, however, be respon-
sible for allocating successful applicants through
the ministry s allocation policy. The HDC has
already pre-qualified close to 1,000 applicant s
from its database who met the requirements as
prospective buyers for the units, he said.
Mitchell said in January this year the HDC had
sent out requests for First Expressions of Interests
via newspaper advertisements and an impressive
number of potential partners had submitted pro-
posals to enter into design/build/finance for the
delivery of the HDC s 2016 to 2018 housing con-
He said the HDC Tenders Committee had
reviewed and classified a listing of more than 20
promising housing development projects which
would soon provide housing applicants with a
wide range of housing opportunities.
During the ceremony, Rowley promised to "keep
an eye" on the project, noting it will be viewed
as a kind of test. He said one thing he did not
want to see were cost overruns and delays, adding
he trusts the contract will be so tight the contractor
will deliver on time.
contract for Elias
PNM supporters at a Local Government election meeting in Arima last night. This was the first in a series of meetings for this weekend.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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