Sad to say, this CL Financial bailout is resembling a situation in which well-connected persons are getting what they can, any way they can, but making sure not to get caught. Who were the beneficiaries of this lavish payout? What is this reluctance to release details?
That is the Code of Silence in effect.
I was not at all surprised at the reported statements of the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, on the 22 July 2015 High Court judgment ordering him to provide the detailed information I had requested on the CL Financial bailout. The High Court granted a 28-day stay of execution and the Ministry is reportedly in consultation with its lawyers, claiming that “A decision will be made within the period of time allowed by the court,”. The article closed with this quote –
“…Finance Minister Larry Howai said in the statement it should be noted, none of the requests refer to “how over $25b was spent in the Clico bailout”…”
Given that the very request was for the detailed financial information which has been deliberately suppressed since 2009, it is of course impossible to say with any certainty just how much Public Money was actually spent on this CL Financial bailout. That is the inescapable fact at the center of this scandal. The Minister’s tautology is really a powerful explanation of this point.
The fundamentals are that Public Money must be managed and accounted for to a higher standard than that which applies to private money. That is the accepted position in terms of good practice in public administration. Larry Howai is a qualified accountant and was a career banker before his appointment as Minister of Finance & the Economy. I do not accept that Howai is unaware of these standards. We are entitled to a full and detailed accounting of how this vast sum of Public Money was spent…
This article is about the Las Alturas Enquiry into the collapse of two new Morvant apartment buildings erected by China Jiangsu International Corporation (CJIC) for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
This Enquiry seems a politically-motivated one into a serious failure of professional practice which could have cost human lives. It is only in its opening stages, but it is already clear to me that this episode is one which contains serious lessons for our country in terms of the role of Enquiries; the role of the Chinese contractors; the culture of non-enforcement which we practice and of course, the impact of targets and political objectives on proper process.
In the case of Las Alturas this is a large-scale multiple-housing project constructed on a former quarry-site on the Lady Young Road, just south of the lookout. Two apartment buildings which were completed in late 2010 were eventually declared uninhabitable due to severe cracking and the proposed demolition of those structures was announced at the end of May 2012. Each building comprised 24 three-bedroom/two-bathroom apartments, with the total cost of those buildings stated by HDC to be in the $29M range. The buildings were erected by CJIC on the design/build basis which usually places all responsibility for soil investigation, design and construction onto the contractor…
Shocking behaviours by those entrusted to investigate corruption
by Afra Raymond
This column sets out my reasons for seriously questioning the motivation and priorities of the Integrity Commission. Despite my doubts as to the way in which successive Commissions have operated the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA), I have continued to offer suggestions as to how their work could be made more effective.
The continuing Code of Silence on the CL Financial bailout, the sharp attack, from many quarters, on our substantial national institutions and the very doubtful history of the Integrity Commission are clear signs that the Public Interest needs to be safeguarded with utmost vigilance at this time.
In relation to the Commission’s history, we need to note the shocking details unearthed during Dr Keith Rowley’s litigation against them. The Commission had made certain findings without giving Rowley the opportunity to respond, as recommended by its advisers and in 2009 the High Court made an historic finding that…
“…The Court declares that the Integrity Commission has acted in bad faith in relation to Dr. Rowley and is guilty of the tort of misfeasance in public office…”
At Para 45 (i) of the 2009 ruling –
“…The Court does not accept the Integrity Commission’s explanation as to why it wrote to the Honourable Prime Minister on the 19th October, 2004, to ascertain whether an inquiry was to be undertaken and if so, the names of the persons to man the enquiry and their terms of reference. The Court notes that the Integrity Commission is an independent constitutional body which ought to act independently pursuant to its constitutional and statutory powers and duties…”
The entire Commission resigned immediately as a result of that High Court ruling.
Afra Raymond’s new post about the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago shows that what Bajans know is true – when Public Money meets Greed in an atmosphere of no or inadequate integrity legislation, the taxpayers always lose.
For over 30 years successive Barbados governments have promised integrity legislation, and like fools we keep voting the same crooks into office even when we know they are lying to us.
In Trinidad and Tobago, at least the people forced the passage of integrity legislation. In Barbados the politicians don’t even pretend to listen to the people.
The Integrity Commission is continuing its efforts to revise the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA) to give greater effect to its anti-corruption work. I fully support those efforts.
The key challenge is to discern how Public Officials commit the corrupt acts the Commission is meant to reduce. It is therefore necessary to conduct a scrupulous examination of Commissions of Enquiry and other Inquiry (eg LifeSport) Reports & evidence; Auditor General’s Annual Reports; as well as the leading international learning on these questions.
Once the main methods of corrupt agents are discerned, it will then be necessary to consider how the existing powers of the Commission might be deployed in tackling those and if there are new powers needed…
The proposed development of Invader’s Bay will be the largest in our Capital City in living memory. The entire process is tainted by fundamental irregularities, any one of which ought to be enough to stop the development.
Some of those irregularities at Invader’s Bay include an improper and voidable tendering process; failure or refusal to hold Public Consultations; breach of the Central Tenders’ Board (CTB) Act and most recently, a wrong-sided policy on legal advice.
The State has appealed the High Court decision of Justice Frank Seepersad on 14 July 2014 to order publication of the legal opinions on which they had been relying thus far. That hearing is now set for Wednesday 28 January 2015 at the Appeal Court in POS. At the preliminary hearing on Thursday 20 November, the State was represented by a seven-member team of attorneys, led by Russell Martineau SC.
Minister Tewarie has repeatedly told the public that the Appraisal rules for the Invader’s Bay development were first announced in his speech to the Annual Dinner of the T&T Contractors’ Association on Saturday 5 November 2011. That is true, I was there and heard the Minister do just as he said. The issue here is that the closing-date stipulated in the Invader’s Bay Request for Proposals (RFP) was 4 October 2011, which was over one month before the rules were published. Given that fact, the proposers would not have known the rules of the competition and it is fair to say there was no competition at all. None. Just imagine the rules for a Calypso competition being distributed the week after the singers had performed. The RFP process for Invader’s Bay was therefore improper, voidable and illegal.
The ‘Unconquered‘ discussion series is hosted by Robert Young’s The Cloth at #24 Erthig Road, Belmont…Attilah Springer – aka Tillah Willah – is one of the livewires driving this initiative…
I was invited by Tillah to speak at the ‘Conscious Citizenship‘ meeting on Wednesday 13th August 2014, along with Dr. Kevin Adonis Browne, author of the searching new work ‘Tropic Tendencies’…the session was both heated and edifying…it was real, even when Browne ramoujayed on rhetoric!
“The entire process possesses all the ingredients for corruption, I maintain that view.”
Our friend Afra Raymond remains a solid asset to disgusted Trinis and the rest of the Caribbean in the fight against corruption by public officials. Trinidad’s Invader’s Bay scandal is representative of the types of corruption that unfortunately permeates the Caribbean, and Afra has been right on top of the story from the first moment. It is probably accurate to say that Afra’s detailed reporting on the story has the government vexed, and influences the government response and strategies.
Power of the press belongs to those who have one – and Afra has one.
Head over to Afra Raymond’s blog for the latest stories about corruption in Trinidad and Tobago.
Leroy Parris and good friend Finance Minister Chris Sinckler share champagne
The contempt of the elites for the rule of law continues in the CL Financial scandal.
‘We’ the people sometimes forget the primary rules of island life:
In any large scale fraud upon the public, initial Profits are privately owned by the elites who did the fraud. Later Losses are publicly owned.
There will be zero accountability or transparency by the elites charged with “getting to the bottom of things”.
No elite is ever charged with any crime, except if it is really necessary. In that event, the police are given marching orders and not enough time and resources to complete the task. The accused will be found ‘not guilty’ in a fair trial before a carefully selected judge.
“I’m sure there’s some good legal reason why High Court Justice Kaye Goodridge ordered the Barbados Police to put the CLICO criminal charges on hold. Always is some good legal reason for doing what is done.
It’s just that we predicted this months ago. Futures destroyed, pensions gone, lifetimes of work and savings stolen… and nobody will ever pay.
Trinidad’s Joint Select Committee of Parliament is pretending to hold a major inquiry into the administration and operations of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago – TSTT.
We say ‘pretending’ to hold a major inquiry because the committee did what they could to limit the debate, disenfranchise citizens and make sure that informed persons are unable to present a proper submission.
Our friend Afra Raymond is a thorn in the foot of corrupt Caribbean politicians and business people – and he met the committee’s unrealistic ten-day deadline for submissions.
The Trinidad & Tobago Parliament is now conducting an Inquiry into TSTT and this article is an edited version of my submission to that Inquiry.
The Joint Select Committee’s (JSC) ‘Invitation for Written Submissions‘ was published on the TT Parliament website on Wednesday 23 April 2014, with the deadline for submissions set at 4:00 pm on Friday 2 May 2014. Only ten (10) days.
When one considers the far-reaching scope of the Inquiry as specified in its ten (10) objectives; the size and role of TSTT and the recent published reports as to the proposals for the State to relinquish a critical 2% of its share in TSTT, it is clear that these matters are of the utmost, long-term public importance. Placed in that context, the JSC decision to Inquire into these matters is commendable, but the time-frame is so short as to raise serious doubts as to…
Oh sure… the f**king Trini parliamentarians are pretending to have a major inquiry into the administration and operations of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago.
What can they do to limit the debate, disenfranchise citizens and make sure that informed persons are unable to present a proper submission to the committee? Easy… give only ten days notice to the deadline for submissions!
Have a read of Afra’s latest about the efforts to shut down his bold exposure of the truth about Invader’s Bay, CLICO and all manner of government corruption.
“There are several lessons one can draw from this exchange – the sheer hostility to the truth which is now becoming a disturbing ‘new normal‘ in our society;
… the invisible hand of the bureaucracy in devising large-scale developments, stated to be for the benefit of citizens, without citizen inputs; the inescapable reality that these obstructive forces operate across and within all our political administrations.”
“If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.”
by Afra Raymond
Since my previous article on this controversial proposal, we have seen that certain legal advice reportedly considered by the government has been featured in another newspaper, The Guardian. If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.
My main concerns are –
Compare the lack of consultation at Invader’s Bay with what happens elsewhere. In particular, the large waterfront lands near the city centre of San Fernando at King’s Wharf, which has been the subject of ongoing public consultations over the years. The press reports that various design and redevelopment concepts were presented to and discussed with a widely-based audience.
Whatever the criticisms one might make of the King’s Wharf proposals, it is undeniable that views have been sought from the public/stakeholders and various proposals have been made for consideration.
The JCC and its Kindred Associations in Civil Society met with Ministers Tewarie and Cadiz on 26 September 2011 to express our serious concerns. Yet, when Minister Tewarie was challenged by the JCC and others as to the complete failure to consult with the public, the only example of consultation he could cite was the very meeting we had insisted on, which took place after publication of the Ministry’s Request for Proposals (RFP) and just about one week before the closing-date for proposals.
This Minister obviously does not consider public consultation to be a serious element in real development, notwithstanding the lyrics about innovation, planning and, of course, Sustainability and the Cultural Sector. Just consider the way in which East Port-of-Spain is being discussed within that same Ministry. The prospects for sustainable economic development of East POS must be linked with the Invader’s Bay lands, there is no doubt about that. What is more, to carry-on as though the two parts of the capital can enjoy prosperity in isolation from each other is to trade in dangerous nonsense.
When criticising the large-scale physical development plans of the last administration, ‘dangerous nonsense’ is exactly what I had accused them of dealing in.Continue reading →
Afra Raymond chats on the show ’Forward Thinkers‘ with David Walker on 104.7FM, dealing with the CL Financial bailout and my lawsuit against the Minister of Finance to get at the detailed information as to how the $24B in Public Money was spent. 24 October 2013. Audio courtesy More 104.7 FM. Listen here.
Programme Date: Thursday 24th October 2013
Programme Length: 0:45:41
Comments Off on Afra Raymond on More 104.7fm – talks about his lawsuit against the Minister of Finance
“Ministers of the Government and others employed in the various Ministries must begin to appreciate that laws are there to be followed both by the Government and by members of the public alike.”
Expediency must never be allowed to take priority over principle.
by Afra Raymond
Invader’s Bay has re-emerged from the shadows via PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi’s budget contribution (PDF) on Monday 23 September 2013 (pp. 168-175). The twists and turns in this controversial proposed scheme are detailed at the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry – JCC’s webpage here.
Invader’s Bay is a 70-acre parcel of reclaimed State land off the Audrey Jeffers Highway – just south of PriceSmart & MovieTowne – in the western part of Port-of-Spain. Its value was estimated by the State in 2011 to be in excess of $1.2Bn, so these are prime development lands, possessing these attributes –
Water, Electricity and all urban services are readily available;
Direct access to Audrey Jeffers Highway;
Before proceeding to the latest revelations, it is important to restate the main objections raised by the JCC and others with respect to this proposed development –
The Request for Proposals (RFP) was published by the Ministry of Planning in August 2011 seeking Design-Build proposals for the development of these lands and specifying an entirely inadequate 6 weeks for submissions;
There has been no public consultation at all, so the public has not been involved in this, the largest proposed development in our capital in living memory;
The RFP was silent as to the other three, extant strategic plans for the POS area, all paid for with Public Money. Given that the RFP was published by the Ministry of Planning, that is a tragic irony, to say the least;
EIA – The RFP is silent as to the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment in a development of this scale;
The proposals were to be evaluated against the “Invader’s Bay Development Matrix and Criteria Description”, which was only published after the closing-date for submissions. That is a clear breach of proper tender procedure, which renders the entire process voidable and therefore illegal.
The key points Al-Rawi was advancing seemed to be based on certain leaked Cabinet papers, but not having seen them, there is little detailed comment I can give.
Al-Rawi stated that the Government has agreed to lease parts of the property to two developers – DACHIN Ltd (Derek Chin, the MovieTowne man) and Invaders Bay Mariner Development Company (Jerry Joseph). He also claimed that those leases are to be granted at the land value quoted by the developer/s’ valuer -$74psf – which is a small fraction of the valuations obtained from the Commissioner of Valuations – $511psf – and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the independent consultant retained by the State – $436psf.
According to Al-Rawi –
…The developers are saying, “Hold on, you need to look at this from a residual valuation approach”, and on a residual valuation approach they are saying, “Remember we have to do infrastructural work, we are only going to get a residue of this land coming into our hands, therefore, we want a residual value approach… Continue reading →
Guilty Government Fighting Afra Raymond’s Freedom of Information request all the way
Please note that the JCC President, Afra Raymond, will be interviewed by David Walker of 104.7fm on Thursday 15th August, 2013 between 11:00am-12noon on the issue of “State Enterprises & Issues Arising Within”
Be sure to tune in!
We received the following from our old friend Afra Raymond. You should read the original at Afra’s own website.