Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2014 Contents NADALEEN SINGH
Human Resources at
SM Jaleel, Roger Berke-
ley, said yesterday that
the negative publicity
being generated from
the Drug Enforcement
Administration s probe
of the recent $644 mil-
lion cocaine seizure in
the United States has
impacted heavily on the
psyche of the company s
owners and employees.
"We have 2,000
the region and their lives
and livelihoods depend
on the success of the
business...that s one
aspect of it," he said yes-
terday, during the Morn-
ing Panchayat Show on
"The other aspect that
is being missed is that
SM Jaleel is a victim ---
behind the corporate
entity and behind all of
the products and so on,
there are human beings.
SM Jaleel is not just the
name of the company
but it is also the name
of the founder of the
company and his family s
"We are challenged in
defending the integrity
of our employees, the
integrity of our share-
holders and the stake-
holders of the organisa-
The DEA is currently
in the country wrapping
up loose ends in its
investigation of the drug
haul, which was made at
the Port of Norfolk in
Virginia on December
20. The illegal drugs,
which left the Port of
November 17 in a 20-
foot container, were hid-
den in more than 700
tins of Trinidad Juice
SM Jaleel has dis-
tanced itself from the
shipment, noting that it
does not ship from the
Port of Port-of-Spain
and that the labels used
on the tins were also
fake. However, it has not
escaped attention and
criticism from the public
as speculation continues
about who might be the
big fish behind the ship-
Berkeley also said he
Security Minister Gary
Griffith s decision to pre-
vent the release of sen-
sitive information on the
investigation to the local
media from the local law
assisting the DEA. How-
ever, he said the compa-
ny wants the probe to be
completed, the public to
know the truth and the
company s name cleared.
"SM Jaleel s position
is that the investigation
needs to take place
quickly and the informa-
tion needs to be dissem-
inated to the public," he
"We understand the
need for some level of
sensitivity in terms of the
information that is being
gathered. At the end of
the day, the company is
being portrayed in a neg-
ative light and the name
of SM Jaleel needs to
cleared as quickly as pos-
Earlier this week, Grif-
fith also said he was
going after the "big fish"
involved in the ongoing
Responding to those
claims, SM Jaleel
Robert Lim Choy said:
"I think the main thing
right now is that a lot of
people are really frus-
trated with the little fish,
big fish scenario.
"Before we were fully
cleared they just wanted
someone to fall, the big-
ger the someone the bet-
ter. We (T&T) had a his-
tory in the past of not
following through fully
as a country in terms of
He confirmed that the
company had not been
approached by the DEA
to assist in the investi-
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Ex-Caribbean Sea Works director:
for 23rd JANUARY, 2014
Former director of Caribbean Sea Works
Ltd Krishnamurti Mahabir says he is not
afraid to face the US Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) because he had no
involvement in the $644 million cargo of
cocaine seized at Norfolk, Virginia, last
The company was named as the entity which
shipped the illegal cargo to Virginia, but the
company has been officially defunct since its
main owner, John O Sullivan, died in 2008.
Speaking at his office, PIK and Associates,
at Chamroo Branch Trace, Claxton Bay, yes-
terday, Mahabir said he removed himself as a
director of the defunct company on December
A document of the transaction, signed by
authorised officer Doolin Ragoonath Mahabir,
showed that Malcolm Browne, of Milford Road,
Scarborough, and Brigitta O Sullivan, of Windy
Ridge, Goodwood Park, Glencoe, remained as
directors after 2012.
Saying he was never aware that Caribbean
Sea Works was a front for drug smuggling,
Mahabir said he had no plans to investigate
the company s operations after he demitted
Explaining how he became involved with
the company in its early days, he said: "My
name is listed as a director of the company
because I made an investment with one of my
clients, Victor Jattan.
"Caribbean Sea Works had a contract to do
the Scarborough jetty. They got the contract.
"I was put there to secure Victor s interest.
I never had any signing authority or anything,
so I am clear."
When the owner of the company died,
Mahabir said, the contract was terminated,
leaving Jattan at a loss.
Asked why he waited until 2012 to remove
his name, Mahabir said: "I forgot about it. I
had no time to see about that. I was just there
as a figurehead.
"Right now I am involved in 15 or 20 com-
panies, so I am a busy man."
Asked what prompted him to remove his
name last year, Mahabir said: "Companies
Registry has penalties for the filing of annual
returns. I didn t want to get tied up in that
because there are hefty penalties tax-wise.
When I realised that my name was still there,
I took my name off."
He said when he saw himself listed as a
director of Caribbean Sea Works several days
ago, he was surprised.
"The owner is dead, how was I to know his
company was being used as a front for drugs?
I now know that," he said.
"This has affected me but I have nothing
to hide. I have over 300 clients and if my name
gets dirty, we will run into problems."
He said he regretted his involvement at the
company, but had full confidence that the DEA
would crack the case.
Asked whether he had received any calls
from concerned clients, Mahabir said no.
"My clients know that I am not on nonsense.
I called up a few of them to tell them that I
will be speaking with the DEA. I told them I
had no clue what was going on at the com-
"I am not worried, because I always thought
the company was defunct since 2007 or 2008."
Mahabir said his accountancy company was
registered with the Financial Intelligence Unit
and he was aware of the stringent rules in
place to prevent money laundering.
Asked what measures should be put in place
at the ports to thwart the transatlantic drug
trade, Mahabir said no matter what was done,
the trade would continue.
"You can never stop crime. I cannot say
what more could be done at the ports."
Asked if there should be more surveillance
systems, Mahabir said: "Yes, I guess so, but
everything costs money. More money for more
surveillance. Where we getting money?"
My hands are clean
Krishnamurti Mahabir at his Chamcoo Trace,
Claxton Bay, business yesterday. PHOTO:
KRISTIAN DE SILVA
SM Jaleel export/import manager Roger Lim Choy,
left, and VP human resources Roger Berkeley during
yesterday's Morning Panchayat Show on 106.5FM
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
SM Jaleel exec on cocaine probe:
Negative publicity hurting employees
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