Alleging bid-rigging and cartel-like behaviour in the award of 10 contracts worth $200 million in projects for the Estate Management Business Development Company Limited (EMBD, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General (AG) Stuart Young yesterday announced legal action against five contractors.
He also vowed legal action against former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal as the then EMBD line minister for alleged breach of his fiduciary duties to act honestly and in good faith. Lawsuits are also being filed in the United States.
Young alleged the contracts had been improperly shared out among this quintet, and that the works were overpriced and under-performed, he told a news briefing at the Office of the AG in Port of Spain.
He alleged that former EMBD CEO Gary Paramasar was part of this alleged collusion and had ultimately received a housing unit from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC.)
Government filed its first three lawsuits last Thursday with more to come against the two other contractors and Moonilal. Young said that was the same day Moonilal alleged AG Faris Al-Rawi had tried to “bug” the law office of Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen, remarking, “I don’t believe in coincidences.”
While Government is limited to initiating civil action, Young said any criminal legal action is in the remit of the police, who are in receipt of these findings, and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Young said for the past 20 months his ministry has worked with a team of international and local professionals in forensic accounting/auditing, investigations and law and has quietly, efficiently and meticulously done investigations and forensic analysis at the EMBD regarding contractors allegedly hand-picked to upgrade and rehabilitate certain Caroni roads.
The five contractors are TN Ramnauth and Co Ltd (TN Ramnauth), Kall Co Ltd (Kallco), Namalco Construction Services Ltd (Namalco) and Fides Ltd (Fides), and Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd (Ramhit). Newsday sent email messages to the first four firms and tried to phone the fifth, but mostly got no reactions, likewise for a message via social media to Gary Parmassar. However TN Ramnauth replied, “With regards to your question, to my knowledge these allegations are scandalous and are being dealt with by our attorneys.”
Young continued, “Four of the contractors, Namalco, TN Ramnauth, Kallco and Ramhit commenced legal action against EMBD for recovery of monies that they allege are owed to them. In fact, one contractor, Namalco, sued EMBD on May 6, 2016 for over $1 billion and this claim has been vigorously defended and resisted by EMBD and was today stayed in the High Court.”