Friday, September 27, 2013

NP cleared of bid rigging allegations; AG, NP calls on Hinds to apologise

The Integrity Commission has determined that there was no evidence of bid rigging in the award of a $40 million contract to Gopaul and Company by NP - the National Petroleum Marketing Company.

PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds had written to the Integrity Commission calling for an investigation.
Hinds felt that something was wrong because the owners of the company are friends of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and also because Persad-Bissessar stayed at the home of the Gopauls before and after the 2010 general election.

Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan was energy minister at the time and the PM asked her for a report, which the PM then forwarded to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. He found several discrepancies and quashed the tender process.

The Integrity Commission wrote to NP chairman Neil Gosine advising him of the result of the investigation.
In a letter dated September 19, 2013, the Commission stated: "Having examined all the evidence and legal submissions made by the concerned parties, the Commission has, in accordance with the provisions of Section 34 (6) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, determined that there are insufficient grounds for continuing this investigation and decided to terminate the same.”

The commission sent a similar letter to Hinds, advising the PNM senator that the probe will not continue.

Hinds had asked the Commission to rule on whether the Prime Minister’s stay at the Gopaul house in Tunapuna could have been defined as "a gift" within the meaning of the Integrity Act.

He also wanted the commission to state whether the Prime Minister’s stay at the Gopaul residence might have influenced the award of the contract by NP.
The Commission ruled against Hinds in both matters. It found that the Prime Minister did not breach the Integrity in Public Life Act by staying at the home of a friend and it also found that there was no basis to continue any investigation into NP’s award of the contract. 

Hinds told the Express newspaper he is not satisfied with the findings but will accept the verdict. "I have to accept the findings of the Commission. I am obliged to accept it. But I still in my heart believe that something went wrong," he said.

Ramlogan also commented to the Express, stating that the Commission’s finding vindicates the Prime Minister and her Government. And he called on Hinds to apologise.

“The hullabaloo over the Gopaul contract was malicious and unwarranted as there was never any evidence to suggest wrongdoing. But there is a tendency to pounce and pronounce on every stray allegation and to amplify it by repetition until it is concretised in the public psyche into fact, when it is pure fiction,” the Attorney General told the paper.
Ramlogan noted that Persad-Bissessar had nothing to do with the NP contract and didn't even know that Gopaul and Company was bidding for it. 

The Chairman of NP issued a media statement Thursday expressing deep disappointment that the matter had wasted so much of the country’s "precious time and resources". 

He added, "Unfortunately, allegations of this sort have become part of a disturbing pattern of behaviour by certain members of the population. More disturbing is that these unfounded allegations have brought into disrepute the character and good name of so many. 

"Further, since no impropriety was discovered, we believe that the only decent thing for Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds to do is to issue an apology to all those affected by the events he set in motion.”

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai