Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has recovered US$6,471.70 which was reportedly sent to a wrong account from the Division of Tourism, Transportation and Culture.
Speaking at last Thursday’s post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex, Calder Hall, Charles said:
“We would have received formal notification from First Citizens bank in response to a request for a recall of the payment via wire transfer of the US$6,471.70 and they have advised that they were able to recall that wire transfer. This is one of the issues which would have been referred to the Fraud Squad, so this sum of money has been successfully recalled.”
He could not say what services were done for the payment, but said the money was intended for one Henry Yaniz.
“That information I don’t have in relation to the services that he would have provided to the Division. The wire transfer was meant for Henry Yaniz and the transfer was dated July 5, 2017. We would have written to the bank formally on November 22 (2017) and received the written correspondence on January 2,” Charles added.
A Google search showed one Henry Yaniz listed as a cruise consultant for the THA.
Checks with a banker on whether a recall of funds through a wire transfer was possible elicited the explanation that a ‘recall’ may be possible if a transaction was recent and the funds were still in the recipient account.
“Banks send a request for cancellation by following the same route of the payment, that is from one bank to the next, chasing the payment already on its way, but this can only happen if the monies were not cleared by the receiver,” the banker said.
With regards to two other two wire transfers sent to reportedly unknown accounts – one for $8.8 million, and another for $1.6 million, Charles said: “We are awaiting efforts in terms of the larger sums.”
In November last year, THA Minority member Farley Augustine, at a press conference in Scarborough, first reported that $8.8 million, intended as a payment to Virgin Atlantic for flights arrangements on the UK/Tobago route, had been wired to a reportedly unknown account, and that a payment of $1.6 million for an agent in Miami, was also wired to another reportedly unknown account.
In December 2017, Augustine again reported that in June, a Miami-based consultant’s monthly fee of TT$44,000, which was supposed to be paid to a US bank account, was wired to an account in Leicester, United Kingdom. The documents provided by Augustine showed payments invoiced to Henry Yaniz, of Newport Consulting Partners.
Asked if new payments have since been made to the intended recipients, Charles said there was an arrangement with Virgin Atlantic “which allows us to liquidate the debt in tranches.”
He said Fraud Squad officers were continuing investigations at the Tourism Division into all incidents of incorrect disbursement of funds.