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The People’s Partnership Cab-
inet approved $56 million ($56,
343,000) to lease the Super Fast
Galicia in 2014, nine days before
it received board approval by
the Port Authority of Trinidad
However, the multi-million-dol-
lar approval was green-lighted de-
spite a report that pointed to a num-
ber of deficiencies that likely made
the Super Fast Galicia unsuitable to
service the Tobago sea bridge.
This is just one of several issues
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi will
be asked to investigate following
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s
statement last Thursday that there
was possible “criminal conduct” in
the handling of the contract for the
Documents obtained by Guardian
Media point to possible conflict of
interest and dereliction of duty by
parties involved in the contract.
The AG may also be asked to ex-
amine the involvement of ND Alfon-
so & Co Ltd, the law firm of former
First Citizens chairman Nyree Al-
fonso, in the deal.
According to documents obtained
by GML, the Port Authority board
approved the selection of the boat
on April 12, 2014. Two days lat-
er, on April 14, the Port Authority
received a cheque in the amount
of $23,933,722 representing “the
cost of mobilisation & infrastruc-
ture,” with instructions to hold the
money in escrow until the contracts
were executed. Two weeks earlier,
on March 28, a draft minute was
taken to cabinet for the funding of
the Galicia and on April 3, via cab-
inet minute No 972, the funding of
the vessel was approved, which was
some nine days before the port board
sat and ratified its selection.
But in his contribution to the de-
bate in the Parliament on Wednes-
day, Works and Transport Minister
Rohan Sinanan, in outlining why
Government felt the Galicia was no
longer a good option, noted several
reasons why the vessel was unsuit-
able for the sea bridge.
Those deficiencies were in fact
outlined in an internal memoran-
dum dated March 24, 2014, which
was compiled by then acting CEO of
the Trinidad & Tobago Inter-Island
Transport Corporation, Leon Grant,
who had visited Gibraltar in early
March 2014 to conduct “sea trials”
and “inspection” of the vessel.
In the memorandum on the is-
sue, Grant stated that the approved
charter of the MV Super Fast Gali-
cia was subject to the assessment of
the vessel. A technical, commercial
and statutory assessment was done
during his trip to Gibraltar and he
concluded that the vessel only sat-
isfied two of the six areas deemed
critical for its suitability to service
the sea bridge.
According to Grant’s memo, the
vessel did not satisfy passenger ca-
pacity, operational costs, utilisation
and configuration for the route.
However, in a detailed breakdown
of her bill to the Port Authority on
July 18, 2014, attorney Nyree Alfon-
so, in a note on the vessel’s suitabil-
ity, stated the “Super Fast Galicia
was deemed most suitable by Mr
Contacted yesterday, Grant re-
fused to answer any questions about
the apparent conflict between his
first report and the final recommen-
dation, only saying: “I am not al-
lowed to speak on this issue relative
to the ferry at this point in time.”
Told that he had pointed to several
weaknesses in the vessel in his 2014
report, he directed questions to the
newly-appointed chairman of the
board Allison Lewis.
There are also questions about the
management of the Galicia’s con-
tract over the last three years and
why at least four tenders put out by
the Port Authority were eventually
scrapped, including under the for-
mer People’s National Movement
board led by Christine Sahadeo.
The vessel was brought into this
country in June 2014 on a temporary
basis, but was subsequently granted
several contract extensions.
According to Works & Transport
Minister Rohan Sinanan, there was
an agreement for an 18-month con-
tract extension on April 8, 2016. It is
unclear whether all parties involved
in the 2016 lease negotiations were
ever made aware of the findings of
the 2014 report when renegotiating
that deal. However, in January 2017,
Sinanan claimed Intercontinental
Shipping managing director John
Powell was no longer interested in
a short-term deal and demanded a
three-year contract with the option
to renew for another two years or he
would pull the vessel. A well-placed
source told Guardian Media the PNM
Government felt “strong-armed and
bullied” by this tactic.
Super Fast Galicia.
Galicia initially deemed unsuitable
Intercontinental Shipping manag-
ing director John Powell is denying
any strong-arming of the Govern-
ment in securing a contract exten-
sion for the Super Fast Galicia.
Contacted in Gibraltar yesterday,
Powell said Intercontinental could
not threaten to pull the ship from
service because it always operated
on instructions from the owners and
international broker of the vessel.
He explained that his company was
nominated by the European Broker
Asked to explain how Intercon-
tinental was listed as one of three
preferred tenderers, he said Inter-
continental could not have been on
the initial tender in February 2014.
“It’s not like Intercontinental
walked in and suddenly appeared
on the list, we couldn’t have done
that,” he added, saying they are an
agent that works through a broker
or a principal.
Last Wednesday, Works Minister
Rohan Sinanan described as “eco-
nomic blackmail” a situation in which
Intercontinental sought a change to
the existing 18-month contract in
However, Powell said yesterday
that he would be “disappointed” if
Minister Sinanan said that.
“At no time did we strong-arm
the Port Authority, the Ministry of
Transport or the Government,” he
According to Powell, the owners
wanted to sell the vessel or attain
a long-term contract and he ques-
tioned why the Government would
offer a month-to-month contract
knowing there was the possibility
the owners could pull out.
See Page A5 &
Editorial on Page A18
Attorney Nyree Alfonso says
Government can “do all the inves-
tigations” it wants into the Super
Fast Galicia deal, as she believes it
is nothing but “smoke and mirrors.”
She said the probe by the Attorney
General will not change the fact that
Government was aware the vessel
was pulling out and there appeared
to be inaction by the Government.
Alfonso reiterated that she de-
clared her interests to the Port Au-
thority, informing that John Powell
of Intercontinental Shipping and his
other companies were her client. She
noted, however, that many people in
the shipping industry are her clients.
“I am an attorney for more than
20 years, I know what conflict of
interest is,” she told Guardian Media.
While she assisted in locating the
vessels, Alfonso said she never se-
lected Powell to be the local agent
for the Galicia.
“The choice of Intercontinental
was not my choice, but Interconti-
nental is my client,” she said, adding
that she extricated herself from the
She said she is not this “Machia-
vellian” person that she was being
made out to be.
In responding to a motion brought
by Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Ram-
bachan in Parliament last week,
Works Minister Rohan Sinanan
alluded to the alleged involvement
of Nyree Alfonso’s law firm, ND Al-
fonso & Co.
According to a timeline of events
seen by Guardian Media, Alfonso
was retained by the Port Authority
for six months, beginning December
2013. She was hired to terminate the
charter of the Warrior Spirit vessel.
Alfonso confirmed to GML she
was subsequently asked by the port
to assist in locating vessels to help
replace the Warrior Spirit because of
her expertise as a maritime lawyer.
She was able to find six vessels.
In an interview with Guardian Me-
dia on Friday, Alfonso denied submit-
ting any tender during the process.
She provided an excerpt of a letter
sent to the Port Authority where
she indicated she had “terminated
her efforts” on the basis that she
would be unable to meet the nor-
mal industry required criteria, and
informed the European brokers to
work with a local agent.
In a February 19, 2014 tender that
was eventually scrapped, Intercon-
tinental Shipping was listed as the
preferred tenderer, although it was
not on the list of nine companies
invited to submit a bid for the provi-
sion of services. After tenders were
evaluated however, Intercontinental,
which is the local agent for the Su-
per Fast Galicia, was listed as one of
the three preferred bidders.
Although Alfonso was employed
by the port at the time, she was in-
vited to tender for the provision of
a vessel, where two of the three
vessels she found were short-listed.
In a 12-page breakdown of her
bill, she charged for a number of ser-
vices, including locating temporary
vessels, contacting the Super Fast
team to tell them of the selection
and arbitration proceedings, among
There were no dates provided for
the last section of her bill. This dealt
with confirmation that the Galicia
had been accepted by the Port
Authority, assistance in putting in
place a payment facility and letter of
credit, as requested by the owners
of the Galicia.
It also addressed the preparation
of the charter party agreement and
multiple in-person meetings with
Intercontinental general manager
John Powell and the permanent
secretary. On October 2, 2014, the
Port Authority approved the pay-
ment of $840, 750 to the law firm
for its services.
Alfonso—No conflict of interest
ND Alfonso & Co paid $840,750
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