Day: July 19, 2018

Super Industrial Services- Bankruptcy to Billions

Revelations were made in Parliament in July 2014 that SIS (Super Industrial Services), a firm reputed to be a financial supporter of the People’s Partnership, went from Bankruptcy in 2010, to receiving over $2 BILLION in contracts awarded by the People’s Partnership in 4 years.

It was also revealed that SIS personnel sit on the boards of several State-owned companies and agencies that have awarded contracts to the SIS and its 52 subsidiaries.

The Contracts awarded include:

  • $1.6 billion Beetham Water Waste Treatment Plant from WASA
  • $1.6 million for 59 hydro-logical stations from WASA
  • $15 million for the design/supply/installation of pre-engineering buildings at Febeau Primary School
  • $1.5 million for the New Grant Primary School, awarded by the EFCL
  • $24 million for Kanhai Presbyterian Primary School
  • $12 million for design-build services for the Centre for Persons with Disabilities, from The Community Improvement Services Ltd (CISL)
  • $1.7 million to SIS for works on Malick Secondary School
  • $3.5 million for waste water services at Sangre Grande Hospital
  • $202 million for works on the Motor Vehicle Authority from NIPDEC
  • $100,000 to SIS subsidiary Phoenix Welding and Fabrication Limited (PWFL) for an upgrade of Irvine Park Recreation Grounds from The Sports Company of TT (SPORTT)
  • $6.8 million for Lange Park Waste Water Plant from WASA
  • $130 million to SIS subsidiary, Point Lisas Construction Limited (PLCL), to upgrade the Penal Recreation Grounds
  • $8.4 million for the Arima Wastewater Plant
  • $25 million from the National Gas Company (NGC) for landscaping work to the Couva/Preysal interchange
  • $9.5 million contract to SIS subsidiary, Phoenix Project Management and Design Ltd (PPMDL), for the Lower Cumuto Recreation Grounds
  • $3.2 million from NGC for the Gasparillo Park Recreation Grounds
  • $5 million for NGC’s Corporate Campus
  • $5 million for Nipdec for SIS subsidiary, Midway Construction Limited, for California Youth Facility
  • $2 million from Nipdec for Midway, for the Los Bajos Beach Facility

The $1.6 billion Beetham Water Recycling Plant project tips the scales at the heftiest of all the contracts that the People’s Partnership had awarded to this single company.

Company owner Krishna Lalla had been able to amass several Government contracts through state enterprises and government ministries without ever being called to account for what had been deemed his “good fortune with the Government”. Both Lalla and his company managed to escape much public scrutiny and have remained largely out of the public eye.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley at the time had been spearheading the call for more transparency in the award of the contracts, calling the contracts a “rape of the treasury” and what proved to be blatant favouritism, collusion and corruption.

Lalla’s company has various subsidiaries, all tied to the same office. While SISL’s  website lists just eight subsidiary companies, Lalla is financially linked to more than twice that number, which tendered for and had been awarded various contracts under the People’s Partnership.

Lalla was also in a legal wrangle with former UNC chairman Jack Warner over a multi-million-dollar cash injection into then UNC leader Basdeo Panday’s political campaign in 2007. The matter reached to the Privy Council but was returned without judgment to the local High Court for deliberation. One of Warner’s attorney’s said Lalla contributed some $26 million to Panday’s campaign but when that bid failed, attempted to get back some of the money by saying it was a loan and not financial support.

It was in those court hearings that Lalla was linked to 18 local companies.

Super subsidiaries
The eight subsidiary companies which also enjoyed government contracts – Marshall Asphalt Pavers, Prime Equipment Rentals, Quality Refractory Insulation Services, Scaffolding Professionals, Phoenix Welding & Fabrication and Casa Contractors Ltd, were  also tied to smaller private construction contracts.

It is through these two last subsidiaries that Lalla worked on the Prime Minister’s private residence in Philippines and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack’s private residence in Tobago.

The company even dabbled in security with the purchase of Executive Bodyguard Services Ltd (EBSL) for US$14 million in 2013. Apart from the company being favoured by the Government, it was also in the middle of a controversial contract to guard the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General’s office last year.

Lalla’s company was also hired by the People’s National Movement (PNM) for work at the e-Teck project but was dismissed in 2006 after it “failed to meet contractual obligations”. Work on the Couva Interchange also had to be redone after the asphalt failed.

Arbitration proceedings were commenced by NGC against SIS in October 2016 seeking to recover more than TT$400 million from SIS arising out of the breach of contract by SIS leading to its termination. NGC has at all times taken steps to diligently prosecute those proceedings and continues to do so.

Terminating SIS’s contract was done on the advice of Senior Counsel, NGC said: “SIS has never offered NGC an undertaking not to dispose of its assets up to the value of TT$180 million pending the hearing and determination of the arbitration proceedings. The Court of Appeal in a decision dated 12 June 2017 found that NGC was right to reject any undertakings offered by NGC.”

NGC also expressed that, “NGC has at all times acted prudently in seeking to recover millions of dollars from SIS which were overpaid during the currency of the contract, or which are due to NGC arising out of SIS’s breach of contract.”