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Tuesday 20 August 2019
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Devant waits for Australia

DEVANT MAHARAJ 
PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
DEVANT MAHARAJ PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

FORMER minister Devant Maharaj today said he is still waiting for a reply from the Australian government about concerns he has about alleged corruption in the procurement of two naval vessels for the Coast Guard.

Maharaj told Newsday he sent correspondence to Australian Attorney General Christian Porter outlining his concerns by e-mail and a hard copy of his letter was delivered to the Australian High Commission in St Clair as well.

Maharaj said he was not satisfied with comments by National Security Minister Stuart Young on this issue on Monday, and Young's statements show the need for an investigation on the Australian side about Government's efforts to procure two Cape Class vessels for the Coast Guard.

Maharaj insisted six fast patrol boats acquired from Austal under the former Patrick Manning administration were not suited for TT's waters.

On Monday, Young apologised to the Australian government for Maharaj’s allegations about corruption in the procurement of the vessels. Referring to a sequence of events from April to July, Young said the Prime Minister was first invited by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider acquiring vessels for the Coast Guard. Young produced a July 9 report from Defence Force Chief of Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard which showed the vessels “are suitable for TT’s purposes” and can be integrated with the Damen vessels bought by the former People's Partnership government.

He said the purchase of the 12 Damen vessels is now “under criminal investigation scrutiny.” Young added this was an “international criminal investigation” which was taking place “not necessarily within the borders of TT.”

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