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Saturday 21 October 2017
Politics

Forensic probe at port

Minister Stuart Young

With additional reporting by Nalinee Seelal

Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young yesterday said the ministry has," already begun to conduct a forensic audit, forensic investigation and examination" at the Port Authority.

Young made the disclosure at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's.

Later in the briefing, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Bridgemans Services Group (BSG) was free to tender the controversial Ocean Flower II ferry again. However Rowley said the vessel's presence in TT does not mean it will be selected for use on the seabridge.

Rowley said this was a matter for the Authority to determine as it evaluates the tenders submitted on Wednesday for a passenger ferry. Young said the Authority will now consider evaluate a total of 12 vessels, including the Ocean Flower II which arrived in TT on Wednesday.

Young told reporters that when certain people were suspended at the port, the ministry began to investigate a series of emails and other documents pertaining to the procurement of vessels for the seabridge. He said the ministry has seized, "telephones, computer equipment and the server associated with the port" as part of the forensic investigation which is currently in progress.

On the Ocean Flower II's arrival, Rowley said there was nothing to stop the vessel from coming to TT or BSG from submitting it to the Port again for consideration. The Prime Minister said the latter was "a separate and new arrangement." He reminded reporters the previous contractual arrangement for the Ocean Flower II was terminated for cause. He said there is no short term proposal from BSG for the vessel's use on the seabridge.

While TT needs a passenger ferry and "people are trying to get business," Rowley said, "There are some people who believe that if they make enough ra-ra, they will get want they want." However, he said Government is determined to ensure that "good order prevails" in this matter.

Noting that many people took positions about the seabridge without any information, Rowley said, "Now that the facts are coming out, some people are uncomfortable with the nature of the facts that are coming out." He said one fact which has many people uncomfortable is that this is not the Government's fault.

"We will tell the country what the facts are and let the chips fall where they may," Rowley declared.

Young criticised CNC3 for a report which claimed Government let the Ocean Flower II back into TT. Saying this report was based on the vessel flying the national flag, Young said the law requires all ships entering TT waters to fly the flag.

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