Thursday 20 September, 2018

MP wants criminal investigation into Garcia

Former education minister and Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh is calling for an Integrity Commission probe to be launched into incumbent Minister Anthony Garcia over alleged preferential treatment of a contractor. 

In a letter dated May 12, 2017, addressed to the Integrity Commission, the MP lodged the complaint on the grounds that the Minister committed breaches of Section 24 and 32 of the Integrity in Public Life Act in "singling out" the contractor for payment over others when the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL), which hired the contractor, is said to owe an outstanding $600 million to other EFCL contractors. 

Gopeesingh said no explanation has been given for this transaction.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Garcia sought to clarify the matter of the payment to Sunboom Contractors Limited for works completed on the Malick Secondary School over a five month period. 

The Minister refuted newspaper reports which claimed a payment of $2 million was hand delivered to the contractor by his advisor, Cheryl Ann Wilkinson. 

While the payment was indeed hand delivered to Sunboom, Garcia said a payment of $510,000 was made and $2 million as previously reported. 

He added that the project falls under the Laventille/Morvant initiative, which has a separate fund to facilitate timely payment when work has been completed, which is where the contractor's payment made from.

Gopeesingh is of the opinion that the facts in the matter warrant a criminal investigation.

"...in my respectful opinion, the evidence crosses the evidential threshold to warrant a criminal investigation and I trust that those in whom that power resides do forthwith exercise those powers and commence immediately a criminal investigation into these transactions to determine whether any criminal offences have been committed." 

The former minister ended the letter by stating that the public interest warrants an immediate investigation into the matters by the Integrity Commission.