FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley both “crossed the line,” former transport minister Stephen Cadiz said, by dragging his company’s name “through the mud,” with their allegations on Thursday night of misconduct in office.
“We will assess what was said and how damaging it was, if at all, on our business, our employees and our customers,” Cadiz told reporters at a Clean Energy Conference at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Mt Hope yesterday. He added that he would not comment further on Imbert and Rowley’s statements until he had looked into it more, but did not rule out legal action.
At a PNM meeting in Barataria Thursday night, Imbert alluded to Cadiz’s time as transport minister, when a company he founded and of which he was once a director, received a contract for the maintenance of four water taxis.
“I don’t know what sparked this whole thing. They have their own reason, but you aren’t going to drag my name or my company’s name through the mud. He mentioned my son and my wife. What is he doing calling my family’s name in his business? They aren’t public figures. If you have a problem with me, call me up,” Cadiz charged.
He was adamant there was no conflict of interest during his two-year stint as transport minister from 2013 to 2015. His company, Tropical Power Ltd, was established in 1987, he said, and done business with every government since then. He said he recused himself from the company, during the five years he was a minister.
“The Ministry of Transport had nothing to do with any contract, especially for work being done for the National Infrastructural Development Company (NIDCO). As minister, I had absolutely nothing to do with NIDCO. The Minister of Transport’s responsibility was the management of passenger loads and the day-to-day.”
He then turned on Imbert’s private business dealings, saying Imbert, “in his private capacity as a construction person,” was involved in construction all over this country and had a responsibility to his company. “You can’t just close it for five years and start back. There’s a process.
“When I came into office in 2010 I divested all of (my company attachments). I had nothing to do with my company for five years. If Mr Imbert has anything to support his statements last night, well then, I welcome it,” Cadiz said. A lot of what was said was political talk, Cadiz said, and as a public figure and politician he accepted that.
“But when you start dragging my name, my company’s name, my employees’ names through the mud, then we’re talking a horse of a different colour.” Imbert, however, insisted he did not cross any line. “I read from the public record at the Companies Registry, and all I did is spoke the truth and spoke fact,” he told Newsday in a telephone call.
The engines for the water taxis are made by German company MTU; on advice from the manufacturer, Nidco gave the contract to maintain the engines to MTU’s local agent, then Trintrac Ltd. In 2013, Nidco switched to the new agents, now SVF International, out of Venezuela.
In November 2014, SVF and Tropical Power entered into a joint-venture agreement to become SVF TT, and as such, became the new agents for MTU. SVF TT is still contracted by Nidco to maintain the engines. “I did not insinuate anything. This is what is on the Companies Registry,” Imbert repeated.