Hardwood Housing Audit Shows What Happens When There Are Few Rules
Prime Minister Thompson stood up in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon and reported that the initial forensic audit into Hardwood Housing Incorporated had revealed a multitude of “unlawful” or “questionable” actions by persons associated with the company.
Here is the way CBC wrote it up in their article Hardwood Report Raises Concerns …
“Unlawful removal of equipment and materials from HHFI, rental by Hardwood Housing Factory Inc of equipment from a company controlled by the Chief Executive Officer and an employee of Hardwood Housing Factory Inc, the questionable use of Hardwood Housing Factory Inc in off book projects, the purchase of materials using Hardwood Housing Factory Inc funds for projects which cannot be identified, the use of Hardwood Housing Factory Inc materials and labour on projects where the proceeds have allegedly been paid to a company linked to the Chief Executive Officer, consistently high salaries and wages with little or no correlation in earned revenue or completed projects.”
The auditor has also suggested that government should seek legal advice.
“… with regard to the commencement of legal action against the Chief Executive Officer, specific employees and potentially others for recovery of funds, tools and equipment and related matters. It also recommended that legal advice be sought regarding possible breaches of the custom laws and violation of the Money Laundering Prevention and Control Act. “
Hardwood Housing Was A Typical BLP Government Scam: Just One Of Many In The Past 15 Years
My friends, we heard all the rumours of wrong-doing at Hardwood Housing during the run-up to the recent election. None of the allegations or the revelations of the audit are surprising to Bajans familiar with the way government projects were run during the fifteen-years of the previous BLP government.
The only difference between the debacle at Hardwood Housing and dozens of other corrupt BLP government projects is the fact that in the Hardwood case, an insider came forth with documents and other evidence.
By the looks of the CBC story, people at Hardwood committed illegal acts like theft of equipment and materials as well as money laundering and Customs offenses.
Theft is theft and if those people did it, I hope they are charged and go to jail. I also hope that the government uses every means at it’s disposal to recover the stolen money. Whether a civil lawsuit as well as criminal proceedings or seizing assets of the accused by some legal means, I support a strong response by the authorities to bring the crooks to justice and to recover OUR money from this government-supported company.
Conflicts Of Interest Are Not Illegal In Barbados – Because Politicians Want To Keep Making Money!
Here is where I’d like to focus your attention. It is the passage that is highlighted in the CBC article in red…
“Rental by Hardwood Housing Factory Inc of equipment from a company controlled by the Chief Executive Officer and an employee of Hardwood Housing Factory Inc,”
This is a typical conflict of interest scam where the people who issue contracts use their authority to award contracts and purchase orders to companies in which they have an interest. Sometimes the contracts actually at a fair price, but more often than not the price is either inflated or the products and services are not delivered.
In short, issuing contracts to companies in which you have an interest is an unethical conflict of interest – and it is not illegal in Barbados!
That’s right folks, every past Barbados government has refused to pass the integrity legislation that would make such conflicts of interest in government and government-sponsored corporations illegal.
Many Ministers and officials under the past BLP government had interests in companies that were awarded fat government contracts.
And there was big money made – so much that the two million dollars lost at Hardwood would look like nothing beside some of the scams.
The new prison at Dodds would be fertile ground for conflicts of interest audits. We’ve all heard the rumours about how some of the suppliers of materials in the United States were actually middlemen where certain Bajan big-ups owned part of the company. Hey… its easy to make money when you control the awarding of contracts. Have your USA company buy a stainless steel prison toilet in the USA for say $150, then sell it to the Barbados government for $400.
And that, friends, is how the politicians and government officials have been making money for years.
But… as I said… Conflict of Interest scams are not illegal, and no Barbados government will pass ITAL legislation to make them illegal.
Prime Minister Thompson promised that he would immediately adopt a Ministerial Code that would make such conflicts of interest scams illegal… but he lied to us.
And now as David Thompson stands there clucking his tongue at the excesses of the Hardwood Housing scam, he has a problem…
Because many of the behaviours that the Prime Minister is clucking about are conflict of interest scams that are not illegal… and the David Thompson government has deliberately left the door open so the DLP piggies can feed from the same trough.