President Anthony Carmona revealed yesterday that an unnamed “vicious criminal from Central Trinidad” now dead, had once ordered a “hit” on his life. He was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of the Procurement Board at President’s House.
He made the point to express his expectations that members of the board will uphold the highest standards of fearless integrity, even if facing intimidation.
“This board will stamp out fraudulent and corrupt practices in and out of the Public Service. The board is made of men and women of the highest calibre.”
Newsday understands the incident occurred when Carmona was a High Court judge.
He made the disclosure as he saluted the steadfastness of chairman Moonilal Lalchan and board member Herdis Lee Chee who, he said, had faced similar threats to their lives but who, like him, had stayed strong under pressure.
“You found yourself in situations because of your integrity. Both of you have been threatened, yet you stood firm.
“On one occasion a hit was put on me by a vicious criminal from Central Trinidad who is now deceased.”
Carmona recalled how when he used to drive into Flagstaff Hill, where he lived, he could hardly believe the reality that he was living under a death threat.
“I had to live with security. I stood my ground. If you can’t stand up for something you believe in, you are not a man. What’s the purpose of living?”
Newsday understands Lalchan and Lee Chee in their professional careers had been variously threatened by a bullet being sent in the mail, and by a gunshot being discharged nearby.
Their careers were detailed in curricula vitae given to reporters yesterday. Lalchan had done forensic audits at the former companies Tesoro and Trintopec, was secretary and acting CEO of the Plipdeco Tenders Committee and had led tender evaluations for the $162 million Atlantic Administration Building in Point Fortin (which came in on time and below budget.)
Lee Chee was procurement manager at ASCO Trinidad, procurement supervisor at TT Methanol Company, supply chain manager at Tucker Energy Services and procurement manager at the Public Transport Services Corporation (PTSC.)
While recalling “tall tales” told in Parliament during debate on procurement reform, Carmona said he nonetheless detected a genuine desire “to get it right.”
“I’m not prepared, like politicians, to walk with a sack of salt on my back. I look forward.”
He said while he had initially promised to appoint the board by year-end, he said people had gone abroad on vacation. “If I had to wait, it was worth it. The last person to be appointed will return to TT within the week.”
He said some people had been ruled out as their appointment might breach section 12(e) which says anyone who has an interest in a firm contracting with the Government is defined as trading with them. In a later address Carmona lamented the challenges facing the Office of President, which he said was “strapped for funding, resources and space,” the latter of which, he lamented, includes shipping containers within which his staff work.
Among Carmona’s case load as a judge, in 2007 he adjudicated the trial of the late Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis and others for the 2002 kidnapping of jeweller Henry Francis.