Category: News

Petrotrin refinery safely shut down and its assets vested to new entities

There has been a safe, in­ci­dent-free shut­down of all Petrotrin re­fin­ery op­er­a­tions and preser­va­tion and “moth­balling” of units is now in progress.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert con­firmed this sta­tus of Petrotrin op­er­a­tions in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, dur­ing de­bate on leg­is­la­tion to vest as­sets, un­der­tak­ings and oblig­a­tions of Petrotrin in­to three com­pa­nies which will com­prise the re­struc­tured en­ti­ty: Her­itage Pe­tro­le­um Co Ltd, Paria Fu­el Trad­ing Co Ltd and Guaracara Re­fin­ing Co Ltd. These were in­cor­po­rat­ed on Oc­to­ber 5 to man­age new busi­ness­es.

Her­itage Pe­tro­le­um will man­age ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion and hold re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for all E&P as­sets, in­clud­ing con­tracts, with rev­enue gen­er­at­ed through crude sales and crude stor­age.

Fu­el trad­ing and prod­uct sup­ply ac­tiv­i­ties will be un­der­tak­en by Paria Fu­el, which will al­so be re­spon­si­ble for lo­gis­tics, ter­mi­nalling and prod­uct han­dling. It’s ex­pect­ed to work close­ly with Her­itage Pe­tro­le­um.

Guaracara Re­fin­ing Com­pa­ny Lim­it­ed will be re­spon­si­ble for the preser­va­tion of re­fin­ery as­sets and pro­vid­ing util­i­ty ser­vices to Paria Fu­el Trad­ing and Petrotrin. The lat­ter will re­main in ex­is­tence and con­tin­ue op­er­at­ing al­though its ma­jor op­er­a­tions will cease on No­vem­ber 30.

On ces­sa­tion of re­fin­ery ac­tiv­i­ties, Im­bert said, “The last im­port­ed crude car­go was dis­charged Oc­to­ber 10, 2018, and crude pro­cess­ing at the re­fin­ery ceased on Oc­to­ber 19, 2018. The last process unit (FC­CU) was shut down on No­vem­ber 3, 2018, and re­fin­ery preser­va­tion and moth­balling is in progress.

“The Sul­phuric Acid re­gen­er­a­tion is still in ser­vice to con­vert all spent acid to fresh acid in sys­tem as part of the preser­va­tion ex­er­cise. The fresh acid would be sold lo­cal­ly for use in wa­ter treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties.”

Im­bert said the first car­go of lo­cal crude was suc­cess­ful­ly ex­port­ed on No­vem­ber 1, 2018.

On fu­el im­por­ta­tion, Im­bert added, “Through com­pet­i­tive bid­ding process in which rep­utable in­ter­na­tion­al sup­pli­ers were in­vit­ed, Petrotrin has so far se­cured four car­gos of gaso­line, jet fu­el and diesel which have al­ready been dis­charged at Pointe-a-Pierre over the end Oc­to­ber to ear­ly No­vem­ber,” he said.

“As part of its strat­e­gy to main­tain se­cu­ri­ty of sup­ply, Petrotrin main­tained ap­prox­i­mate­ly 14 days of sup­ply ex-re­fin­ery pro­duc­tion, thus af­ford­ing seam­less sup­ply of fu­el to lo­cal/re­gion­al mar­kets. A to­tal of 16 car­gos have been con­tract­ed that cov­ers sup­ply un­til ear­ly Jan­u­ary.”

As re­fin­ery op­er­a­tions are wound down, he said the start of the new cor­po­rate struc­ture must be ef­fect­ed to en­sure op­er­a­tion of the three com­pa­nies by De­cem­ber 1. He said the vest­ing pro­ce­dure is the same as was used in the 1990s when Trin­toc and Trin­topec’s as­sets were vest­ed with Petrotrin. Im­bert added it would have been too cost­ly, com­pli­cat­ed and would have de­layed start­up if tra­di­tion­al con­veyanc­ing mech­a­nisms were used.

All of Petrotrin’s is­sued/out­stand­ing shares and those in the new com­pa­nies have been trans­ferred to a new hold­ing com­pa­ny, Trinidad Pe­tro­le­um Hold­ings Lim­it­ed.

“Petrotrin re­mains op­er­a­tional as a mem­ber of the group of sub­sidiaries held by TPHL. This will al­low Petrotrin to meet out­stand­ing con­trac­tu­al li­a­bil­i­ties un­hin­dered and will elude the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Petrotrin bond­hold­ers im­pos­ing a re­quire­ment that they ap­prove the new struc­ture,” Im­bert added.

Im­bert al­so de­tailed progress in re­fi­nanc­ing Petrotrin’s US$850 mil­lion bond, due Au­gust 2019 – among prob­lems Gov­ern­ment cit­ed in jus­ti­fy­ing re­fin­ery clo­sure. He said Petrotrin ap­proached fi­nan­cial mar­kets in Oc­to­ber for a firm or con­sor­tium to re­fi­nance its long-term bonds payable in Au­gust 2019 and 2022.

“Four re­spon­dents were short­list­ed and in­vit­ed to present pro­pos­als on Oc­to­ber 15 to a team led by two of Petrotrin’s di­rec­tors and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. It was de­cid­ed two of the con­sor­tiums would work to­geth­er to ex­e­cute what was es­sen­tial­ly the fi­nanc­ing of a com­bi­na­tion of the Petrotrin ex­it costs as well as the two bonds,” he said.

“Con­sor­tiums com­prise Cred­it Su­isse, BladeX and FCB plus the team of Mor­gan Stan­ley and Ansa Mer­chant Bank. Over re­cent weeks, progress was made with re­fi­nanc­ing and they’re work­ing to­wards hav­ing the first tranche of the ex­it costs set­tled by No­vem­ber 30, 2018, and the bonds re­fi­nanced soon af­ter – well in ad­vance of the ter­mi­nal dates.”

CoP Gary Griffith is T&T’s very own Superman

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith likened him­self to Su­per­man on Wednes­day, as he stat­ed that his “kryp­tonite”, or main weak­ness, is get­ting con­crete ev­i­dence to con­vict peo­ple who are known crim­i­nals.

“If you can’t ex­plain your wealth it gives me some­thing now that will take away my kryp­tonite be­cause peo­ple know how to beat the sys­tem,” Grif­fith said at the launch of an An­ti-Gang Train­ing sem­i­nar host­ed by the US Em­bassy, ti­tled ‘Best Prac­tices in In­ves­ti­gat­ing Gang-Re­lat­ed Ac­tiv­i­ty” at the Po­lice Acad­e­my in St James.

“Every­one claims they know who the crim­i­nals are, they know who the gang lead­ers are, they know who the gang mem­bers are, they know where the drugs are com­ing from, but it’s easy to say, it’s easy to have in­for­ma­tion, it may be easy to have in­tel­li­gence,” Grif­fith said.

“That dif­fer­ence from in­tel­li­gence to ev­i­dence for con­vic­tion that is where the prob­lem lies, and it hurts me, it re­al­ly hurts me in the two months that I am here where we know for a fact we have every­thing to pin­point who is a gang mem­ber, who would have pressed that trig­ger,” he said.

“Get­ting in­for­ma­tion and hear­ing per­sons stat­ing that they are see­ing the body twitch­ing and you can’t ar­rest the per­son be­cause of that dif­fer­ence of in­tel­li­gence and ev­i­dence and this sem­i­nar will help us tremen­dous­ly in mak­ing sure we can shift from that in­tel­li­gence to turn to ev­i­dence,” Grif­fith said.

US Am­bas­sador to Trinidad and To­ba­go Joseph Mon­del­lo ex­pressed his in­ter­est in con­tin­u­ing to part­ner with lo­cal law en­force­ment to bring gang mem­bers to jus­tice and en­sure safe­ty and se­cu­ri­ty for all cit­i­zens.

Grif­fith was laud­ed by At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi and Jus­tice Gillian Lucky for his work so far as com­mis­sion­er.

“In the fight against crime there must be a co­or­di­nat­ed and com­pe­tent ap­proach by all the en­ti­ties in­volved in law en­force­ment,” Lucky said.

“The Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice is un­doubt­ed­ly the flag­ship in this fight and the pub­lic must be able to re­pose the ut­most trust and con­fi­dence in the or­gan­i­sa­tion that is man­dat­ed to pro­tect and serve all law-abid­ing cit­i­zens.”

“This trust and con­fi­dence, how­ev­er, must be earned and I am there­fore pleased that over the past few weeks the na­tion has wit­nessed a re­newed strength, vi­tal­i­ty and fo­cus in the op­er­a­tions of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice,” she said.

“Com­men­da­tion must be giv­en to the new com­mis­sion­er of po­lice Mr Gary Grif­fith who in record time has been able to mar­shal his forces and to send the pow­er­ful mes­sage that those who break the law will be un­earthed and be made to face the due process of the law,” Lucky said.

Al-Rawi con­grat­u­lat­ed Grif­fith for the an­nounced merg­er of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Bu­reau, the An­ti-Cor­rup­tion In­ves­ti­ga­tions Bu­reau, the Fraud Squad and the Cy­ber Crime Unit, say­ing that the move will strength­en the TTPS’s abil­i­ty to tar­get gangs through their fi­nan­cial re­sources.

Griffith turns TTPS intelligence-driven

CoP Gary Griffith is convinced the introduction of new and innovative policies, some of which are intelligence-driven, have contributed in a meaningful way to a decrease in homicides between September and October.

Up until yesterday, the murder toll stood at 459. Griffith said every effort is being made to reduce homicides.

The new anti-crime initiatives worked well when he assumed office, he said, and he believes that with more policies being rolled out, the country will reap the desired results. Griffith says the level of murders can only change with the transformation of the police. “It cannot just be more patrols, more roadblocks. I am turning the TTPS into an intelligence-driven one,” Griffith said, adding that the ultimate barometer of a country’s crime status is homicide.

He said in every situation there will be some loopholes but the intention is to plug those loopholes to make the country safer. “I cannot reveal some of the intelligence-driven initiatives introduced to deal with murders, but I can assure the country that they will see some results,” he promised.

He said there had been a reduction every month for the past three months and his intention is to get back to “acceptable levels” of fewer than 150 murders a year, which was the case way back in 2000 and 2001. He recalled that in May, June and July this year homicides increased compared to last year: “about 17 per cent for May, 20-something per cent in June and 50-something per cent in July.” In August, there was a five per cent reduction in homicides, 23 per cent in September and for October, a 27 per cent reduction.

“So there has been a drastic reduction compared to last year when (the annual figure) was 495.”

He is “ fighting heavily now,” he said, “because we have a system which has not been the appropriate method to deal with curbing homicides.”

Griffith also said more intelligence-driven policing, as well as Tasers and pepper sprays, body cameras for police, the revamping of the E999 system, cameras in police vehicles, a new cold case unit, better customer training for police are among the policies which will help them and the country. Criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran did not wish to comment yesterday on the spike in murders. He said it needed to be carefully analysed before any comment is made and promised to do so at a later date.

There has also been a re­cent an­nounce­ment of a new elite unit to tack­le white-col­lar crime in T&T and promis­es that the “Big Fish” will be ar­rest­ed and brought to jus­tice. Grif­fith is as­sur­ing that it will not be a unit en­gag­ing in witch-hunt.

The Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Di­vi­sion (FID) with sub­units from Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Bu­reau, Fraud Squad, Pro­fes­sion­al Stan­dards Bu­reau, el­e­ments of Or­gan­ised Crime In­tel­li­gence Unit, and Cy­ber Crime Unit will be merged to form the new unit to tackle white-collar crime. This unit is to en­sure a more ef­fec­tive arm of the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) to deal with such crimes and at a faster ba­sis.

It would al­so en­sure bet­ter shar­ing of da­ta be­tween these units and like­wise, be­tween TTPS and oth­er units in the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty.

Griffith said that he intends to ac­quire lo­cal and in­ter­na­tion­al ex­per­tise to im­prove the ca­pa­bil­i­ty of this di­vi­sion. He also plans to do a mas­sive in­jec­tion in our le­gal de­part­ment by ap­point­ing a head of the Le­gal De­part­ment and a few oth­ers to en­sure that TTPS tight­ens up to pre­vent any loop­holes that can be used by per­sons if charged, as well as an in­ter­na­tion­al pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al team to do like­wise.

Griffith states that while the TTPS is an independent body, they need to li­aise with dif­fer­ent ex­ter­nal agen­cies to max­imise our ef­fec­tive­ness, in­clu­sive of the NSC, Chief Jus­tice, DPP, PCA, and of­fice of the AG.

14 Coast Guard interceptors back up and running soon

The T&T Coast Guard’s will re­gain use of more in­ter­cep­tor ves­sels for in­creased bor­der se­cu­ri­ty and the po­lice are get­ting premis­es to call “home.”

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young an­nounced these de­vel­op­ments at yes­ter­day’s post-Cab­i­net me­dia brief­ing.

Com­ment­ing on the re­cent dis­cov­ery of il­le­gal im­mi­grants en­ter­ing T&T through Los Iros and pos­si­bly oth­er il­la­gal ports of en­try, Young said he’d since asked au­thor­i­ties for struc­tures and plans to in­crease bor­der se­cu­ri­ty.

Con­se­quent­ly, bor­der se­cu­ri­ty ini­tia­tives will in­volve get­ting 14 Coast Guard in­ter­cep­tor ves­sels back up and run­ning in the short­est time. 

He said when Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley re­cent­ly vis­it­ed Coast Guard head­quar­ters, it was learnt that many of the Coast Guard’s 25 in­ter­cep­tors weren’t work­ing. 

The cost of get­ting the 14 boats back in­to ser­vice is $6 mil­lion. They will bring to 19 the to­tal num­ber of work­ing in­ter­cep­tors. He said they’ll be strate­gi­cal­ly placed along T&T’s coast on the ba­sis of in­tel­li­gence re­ports, among plans to de­fend the porous bor­ders.

Young ad­mit­ted there are some de­fi­cien­cies in bor­der se­cu­ri­ty, hence need for the in­ter­cep­tors. 

“But there are al­so oth­er things we’re do­ing. What will hap­pen is in­tel­li­gence dri­ven,” Young said.

All agen­cies are al­so in­creas­ing pa­trols and process­es. Im­mi­gra­tion is al­so do­ing so, po­lice raids are on and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Venezue­lan coun­ter­parts are al­so on­go­ing, Young said.

Young al­so said Cab­i­net yes­ter­day agreed to give the Po­lice So­cial and Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion (TTP­SWA) state land with build­ings on it. 

“For many years pri­or, the as­so­ci­a­tion had been look­ing for a home. We ap­pre­ci­ate the job po­lice­men and women do in the ser­vice and the stress­es and rigours they go through dai­ly,” he said.

“TTP­SWA will use the build­ings there and con­struct an area for mem­bers to come to ex­er­cise, meet and as­so­ciate with each oth­er— ba­si­cal­ly a safe zone for po­lice to have well­ness in their lives. They can build their own head­quar­ters, well­ness fa­cil­i­ty and as­sets that will help the ser­vice.”

Young al­so said there was no in­for­ma­tion con­nect­ing any of the re­cent homi­cides. Fol­low­ing some mur­ders, in­clud­ing three dou­ble mur­ders with­in days of each oth­er, he said an emer­gency meet­ing was held last Sat­ur­day and the Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil met on Wednes­day with all 28 po­lice di­vi­sion­al com­man­ders. 

Young added a re­cent “Busi­ness In­sid­er” ar­ti­cle rank­ing T&T as the 12th most dan­ger­ous place glob­al­ly had no com­par­a­tive analy­sis with oth­er states and was sim­ply so­cial me­dia “click bait.” 

“…That (re­port) looks le­git­i­mate but is re­al­ly mis­chief,” Young said.

PM- Divali encourages purity of our hearts and minds

“Di­vali en­cour­ages pu­ri­ty, not just in the clean­ing of our homes, but in the pu­rifi­ca­tion of our hearts and our minds,” ac­cord­ing to Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley.

In a mes­sage to Hin­dus who will cel­e­brate the Fes­ti­val of Lights to­mor­row, the Prime Min­is­ter, in a state­ment said: “Such pu­ri­ty ex­tends to the way in which we in­ter­act with our nat­ur­al and phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, the strate­gies we em­ploy to con­serve our most vi­tal re­sources and the life changes we em­brace to­wards achiev­ing per­son­al goals.”

“This Hin­du fes­ti­val is about much more than the light­ing of deyas. It is the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of that in­ner light which dwells in every one of us, when ig­no­rance is pushed aside by un­der­stand­ing and en­light­en­ment; kind­ness re­places self­ish­ness and where love tri­umphs over hate, en­vy and ill-will,” he said.

Re­fer­ring to the re­cent dev­as­tat­ing floods which de­stroyed hun­dreds of homes and left many peo­ple with­out fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances as “tru­ly a time of dark­ness.”

“In this time of dis­as­ter, how­ev­er, many lights pierced the gloom,” the state­ment said.

“School chil­dren, mul­ti-na­tion­al cor­po­rate gi­ants, the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, non-Gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, re­li­gious bod­ies and pri­vate cit­i­zens worked along­side the State to pro­vide aid wher­ev­er it was need­ed and gave self­less­ly to en­sure that those who were im­pact­ed by this cat­a­stroph­ic event were as­sist­ed.” 

“In the face of seem­ing­ly in­sur­mount­able chal­lenges, we may be tempt­ed to for­get the pow­er we pos­sess to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence. When we set our hearts and minds to a com­mon pur­pose we can to­geth­er make a pro­found im­pact,” he added.

“Let Di­vali once again re­mind us of our abil­i­ty to be a light in our homes, com­mu­ni­ties and our coun­try. May we all, as we shine our in­di­vid­ual lights, cre­ate an il­lu­mi­na­tion that re­veals a path to­wards peace, pros­per­i­ty and na­tion­al suc­cess.

“On be­half of the Gov­ern­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go, I ex­tend joy­ous greet­ings to the Hin­du com­mu­ni­ty on the oc­ca­sion of Di­vali, the beau­ti­ful “fes­ti­val of lights,” the state­ment said.

PM- “White-collar crime a National Cancer in T&T”

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has  warned those in­volved in cor­rup­tion, fraud and white-col­lar crime to watch out, as the procla­ma­tion of the Crim­i­nal Di­vi­sion and Dis­trict Crim­i­nal and Traf­fic Courts will now go af­ter wrong­do­ers.

Cab­i­net yes­ter­day agreed that on De­cem­ber 1 the procla­ma­tion will go in­to ef­fect.

The leg­is­la­tion is geared to­wards tack­ling cor­rup­tion and com­plex fraud cas­es and will utilise spe­cialised judges and mag­is­trates to deal with cor­rup­tion and white-col­lar cas­es in court.

Speak­ing at yes­ter­day’s post-Cab­i­net me­dia brief­ing at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre, St Ann’s, Row­ley spoke at length on three is­sues, pro­cure­ment, se­cre­cy and white-col­lar crime and cor­rup­tion, say­ing there was a view by some that “all ah we thief” in re­fer­ring to his Gov­ern­ment.

But in the last three years Row­ley said his Gov­ern­ment has been open and trans­par­ent to the pop­u­la­tion. He said his Gov­ern­ment has been ac­cused of not fol­low­ing prop­er pro­cure­ment process­es and op­er­at­ing in se­cre­cy, but this be­hav­iour was in fact the trade­mark of the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Touch­ing on white-col­lar crime, Row­ley said he had no idea how cor­rupt T&T was un­til he as­sumed of­fice in 2015.

“The in­for­ma­tion that comes to me on a reg­u­lar ba­sis in the con­duct of pub­lic af­fairs tells me that the peo­ple of T&T need to be aware of the ex­tent of the in­sid­i­ous cor­rup­tion that per­me­ates this coun­try and its busi­ness…in the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors,” he said.

He said a lot of the pri­vate sec­tor ac­tiv­i­ties were in­ter­re­lat­ed to pub­lic sec­tor busi­ness and “white col­lar crime is a na­tion­al can­cer in T&T” which his Gov­ern­ment in­tends to fight head-on.

“In our so­ci­ety, a large pro­por­tion of our cit­i­zens be­lieve that the law is on­ly ap­plic­a­ble to the down­trod­den and op­pressed in cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties and there­fore white-col­lar crime is above the law.”

Row­ley said what this Gov­ern­ment “is do­ing is mak­ing it clear to all cit­i­zens that no­body is above the law,” adding white-col­lar crime was just as detri­men­tal to cit­i­zens’ well-be­ing as the vi­o­lent crimes seen every day.

“And those who be­lieve they could com­mit the white-col­lar crime and get away be­cause the sys­tems don’t work they have an­oth­er thought com­ing be­cause we are chang­ing the sys­tems to make the sys­tem work.”

Row­ley al­so spoke about the ma­jor de­vel­op­ment that oc­curred on Mon­day in­volv­ing one of the biggest cas­es of al­leged white-col­lar crime in T&T to reach the courts. He said the Court of Ap­peal had au­tho­rised the Es­tate Man­age­ment Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny (EM­BD) to fol­low the mon­ey in its pur­suit of al­leged wrong­do­ing.

The mat­ter in­volves the EM­BD, where peo­ple are ac­cused of bribery, col­lu­sion and dis­hon­est con­duct in the award of the Ca­roni Road con­tract.

The court ruled that the “EM­BD has suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to war­rant its re­quest to pur­sue per­sons by fol­low­ing the mon­ey that was paid by the com­pa­ny to cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als for whom Dr Roodal Mooni­lal had re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for.”

A to­tal of ap­prox­i­mate­ly $400 mil­lion was paid out on the eve of the 2015 gen­er­al elec­tions un­der these con­tracts.

The PM said for the first time pub­lic of­fi­cers and their as­so­ciates would be be­fore the court to ac­count for spe­cif­ic ac­tions. He said such a case had se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions.

“It should be pos­si­ble to hold pub­lic of­fice and leave and not be afraid of every po­lice uni­form you see or every siren you hear,” Row­ley said. “I want to let you know this has noth­ing to do with any per­son­al­i­ty.”

“Be­cause many oth­er gov­ern­ment agen­cies have found in­for­ma­tion which they have con­vert­ed to ev­i­dence and have iden­ti­fied per­sons who have ques­tions to an­swer and those mat­ters are to be dealt with prop­er­ly in a place of law,” he said.

Rowley said this is not the only corruption matter which will be coming to the courts. While some claim these matters are being dealt with in secrecy, the PM declared, “That secrecy is only temporary because at the end of the day it is all going to come out in the wash.”

Expressing surprise the media was unaware of the court’s ruling and the far reaching implications of this decision, Rowley produced a Cabinet note dated December 4, 2014, to show the then People’s Partnership government breached procurement procedures in its $228 million acquisition of the TTS Nelson from the Chinese government for the Coast Guard.

He said the contract to execute the vessel’s purchase was dated July 13, 2015. The protocol of delivery and acceptance for the TTS Nelson II was signed on September 6, 2015, 24 hours before the general election. Rowley said this was in sharp contrast to the transparent manner that he briefed the population about Government’s intention to purchase two Cape Class vessel from Australia for the Coast Guard.

The PM said the Opposition was also misleading the population about confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses in contracts were “a harbinger of corruption.” Rowley explained this was standard in all government to government and commercial arrangements. He observed the PP had no issue in signing the contract to purchase the TTS Nelson II with those clauses intact. Referring to former minister Wendell Mottley being awarded the Order of the Republic of TT hours earlier, Rowley said people must see public service as honourable again not something flavoured by corruption.

Communications Minister Stuart Young said Government’s efforts to fight corruption will be bolstered by the proclamation of the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Court Act on December 1. Young said this will allow the court to properly deal with a host of corruption matters and also long standing traffic matters which create a backlog in the court system. On the latter, Young said matters could be dealt with by telephone or video-conferencing if necessary.

Rowley said UNC MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s attempt to blame the PNM for flooding in Greenvale was an attempt to distract public attention from serious developments in court regarding corruption. The PM promised to speak to the media today at the Parliament at 11.30 am about all issues pertaining to Greenvale.

EMBD to “follow the money”

PM Rowley yesterday said Government had secured a landmark judgment in the Court of Appeal in its anti-corruption cases.

He said “a major development” occurred on Monday involving “one of the biggest cases” of alleged white-collar crime in Trinidad and Tobago to reach the courts whereby the Court of Appeal authorised the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD) to “follow the money” in its pursuit of alleged wrongdoing.

Moonilal in court for EMBD Lawsuit

Former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal was in the Port of Spain High Court for the hearing of the lawsuit filed by the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD) against him, four people and three companies.

Moonilal and the others are accused of engaging in an elaborate scheme of bid-rigging, bribery and collusion which led to hundreds of millions of dollars being disbursed to five contractors just before the 2015 general election.

In May 2018, SpotlightTT shed light on the details of the EMBD Lawsuit, read story here: EMBD Lawsuit

Presiding over the EMBD’s lawsuit is Justice James Aboud, who is also hearing a consolidated case in which three companies have sued the state-owned company for unpaid contracts.

Leading the case for the EMBD is Queen’s Counsel David Phillips, while Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Lynette Maharaj and Anand Ramlogan are leading the case for Moonilal, the former EMBD executives and the companies.

At yesterday’s hearing, submissions on preliminary issues were advanced by both teams.

The lawsuit is against Moonilal; former EMBD chief executive Gary Parmassar; former divisional manager at EMBD Madhoo Balroop; Andrew Walker; and companies Fides Ltd; Namalco Construction; and LCB Contractors.

In November, a statement from the Office of the Attorney General said the lawsuit concerned ten contracts awarded in August 2015 to five contractors for the upgrade and rehabilitation of certain Caroni access roads and two contracts for rehabilitation works.

The five contractors were identified by the ministry as: TN Ramnauth and Company Ltd (TN Ramnauth); Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd (Ramhit); Kall Company Lted (Kallco); Namalco Construction Services Ltd (Namalco); and Fides Ltd (Fides).

New high-tech forensic systems in T&T

As the coun­try grap­ples with the spi­ralling crime rate, the Gov­ern­ment has an op­por­tu­ni­ty to in­vest in an ad­vanced foren­sic sys­tem which can help po­lice solve crime in a time­ly and ef­fi­cient man­ner.

The mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar Scan­ning Elec­tron Mi­cro­scope (SEM) and Nano-Analy­sis, one of the lat­est foren­sic sys­tems in the world, is here in T&T at In-Corr-Tech Ltd, a lead­ing in­spec­tion and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice firm, at Cross Cross­ing, San Fer­nan­do. 

The sys­tem has ac­tu­al­ly been here since 2010, but the com­pa­ny has now in­vest­ed in a more ad­vanced mod­el which was on­ly launched in March. 

With this sys­tem, which costs be­tween US$200,000 and US$500,000, bal­lis­tics and gun­pow­der residue analy­sis, which some­times take years to do at the Foren­sic Sci­ence Cen­tre and re­sults in a de­lay in court mat­ters, could be done in about 20 min­utes. 

The sys­tem’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties are sim­i­lar to what is seen in those CSI tele­vi­sion shows, ex­plained In-Corr-Tech Ltd’s vice pres­i­dent Riza Khan at a re­cent sem­i­nar held at the com­pa­ny to in­tro­duce the new tools and tech­niques to the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors. 

Pur­chased from JE­OL Ltd USA, a world leader in elec­tron mi­cro­scop­ic equip­ment, Khan said a sim­i­lar sem­i­nar was held in 2010 when they brought in the first SEM sys­tem. 

Khan said, “Un­for­tu­nate­ly, de­spite the Foren­sic Sci­ence Cen­tre com­ing here eight years ago for a sim­i­lar sem­i­nar, we have not been asked to do any crime de­tec­tion work in the last five years. A gun­shot residue analy­sis we did in three hours on the old­er ma­chine we can now do in 20 min­utes. “

He said the sys­tem does a lot of test­ing down to the 3000 x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion lev­el where­as nor­mal op­ti­cal mi­cro­scopes could on­ly get to 2000 times mag­ni­fi­ca­tion, as well as it us­es elec­tron beams to in­ter­act with a spec­i­men.

“So you could de­ter­mine what the el­e­men­tal analy­sis of any par­tic­u­lar com­po­nent or ma­te­r­i­al. So you get a spec­trum in re­al time sim­i­lar to what you will see on tele­vi­sion in those CSI shows, ” he not­ed.

Khan said the sys­tem can as­sist in de­tect­ing if a drug is coun­ter­feit and de­ter­mines the cause and ori­gin of a fire with­in min­utes. 

JE­OL’s re­gion­al sales man­ag­er Robb West­by said, “The best and the most ac­cu­rate way to analyse gun­shot residue and bal­lis­tic is with the SEM tech­niques.

West­by said while there are oth­er foren­sic sys­tems in the coun­try, the clos­est one to this new tech­nol­o­gy is about ten years old. The sem­i­nar was at­tend­ed by per­son­nel from the Po­lice Ser­vice, Foren­sic Sci­ence Cen­tre, the food and drug in­dus­try, uni­ver­si­ties and up­stream and down­stream op­er­a­tors.

Police threats will not be tolerated

National Security Minister Stuart Young this morning sent a clear message to people creating and circulating posts threatening members of the protective services that such behaviour will not be tolerated and will be dealt with within the law.

Speaking with reporters after the launch of an adolescent drug intervention programme at the Trinidad Hilton, Port of Spain, Young said he received a video of men firing assault rifles, with a caption threatening Police Commissioner Gary Griffith yesterday morning and forwarded it to the police, but confirmed that the video was not recorded locally.

Young said investigators have already made progress in finding the people responsible for the threats.

“It is a video that was created to instil fear, it is not a new phenomenon in TT. What I can say is as I chair this week’s national security meeting it is going to be on our agenda. I don’t want to say too much with respect to it because it is under investigation and we have some good leads so I expect us to be able to tackle it head on.

“I will like to send a message that this type of mischief, this type of attempt to instil fear in our law enforcement will not be tolerated and we are going to utilise all of our resources to fight this type of behaviour.”