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Wednesday 16 October 2019
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Opposition wants probe of Galleons Passage

The controversy surrounding the Galleon’s Passage deepened yesterday with the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) calling for a "full-scale criminal forensic investigation" into the acquisition of the vessel.

At a news conference during the tea break in the Senate, Opposition Senator Wade Mark expressed serious concerns about what he considered to be Government’s continued reluctance to provide documentation.

On Tuesday, the Senate debated Mark’s motion which called on Government to provide details of the acquisition.

"The Government, rather than provide the country with documentation on the valuation, the Government has decided not to so do. So, no documentation on anything," Mark told reporters.

"So, what we have decided to do, we are going to search, we are going to do our work."

Mark announced that in the coming weeks, the UNC intended to write to the Commissioner of Police, Director of Public Prosecutions and Integrity Commission, calling for a forensic investigation into the purchase of the Galleons Passage.

"We have to get to the bottom of the fiasco that is facing our country."

Mark said the UNC also intended to write to the Australian government about the situation, since an Australian company, Sea Transport Corporation is a party to the acquisition. Another company, Sealease Ltd of Hong Kong, is the seller of the vessel.

"We are also going to be writing the Securities and Exchange Commission of Australia. And there is an Anti-Corruption Bureau in Australia that we intend to communicate with."

Alluding to Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s contribution during Tuesday’s debate, Mark took issue with the minister’s statements about the vessel’s inspection.

"What is even more amazing is that the Minister of Finance, in his tantrums yesterday (Tuesday) indicated that the final trials for the inspection of the vessel was completed some time in early December by Lloyd’s of Hong Kong.

"But, we ask the question, ‘How can the final inspection be completed in early December when this Cabinet sub-committee of which the minister is chairman, was only appointed and commissioned on December 1.

"But you have an inspection of the vessel, final on the fifth (December) and you are appointed on the first, which is a Thursday."

Mark recalled the country only knew about the inspection in the newspapers after a post-Cabinet news briefing.

"These are very worrying signs, troubling signs and that is why we have to drill down and get to the bottom of it."

Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen, who also addressed the news conference, said it was clear the procurement process was not properly followed and urged Government to operationalise procurement legislation.

"They are continuing to spend millions of dollars of tax payers dollars in the face of refusing to have the procurement legislation operationalised..="

Ramdeen also described as "very disturbing," the fact that Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan was not included on the Cabinet sub-committee to oversee the purchase of the vessel.

Opposition Senator Saddam Hussein claimed there were several deficiencies plaguing the vessel, including a defective engine system and fire safety apparatus.

The Galleon’s Passage is expected to arrive in TT from Cuba on July 16.

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