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Contractor: No basis for EMBD lawsuit
One of the contractors who was served in the lawsuit arising out of an alleged $200 million cartel claim at the Estate Management Development Company is accusing the Government of going on a witch-hunt which has no real basis.
The contractor, who spoke with the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said while the State is spending millions of dollars “on forensic audits, this is being done at the expense of development.”
The contractor believes that the action taken by the EMBD is “politically motivated and we are hoping that good sense prevails.”
He said “nobody wants litigation. Litigation ties up money, the business and worse yet our reputations are going down the drain.”
The contractor believes that if there was an issue with making payments owed to them instead of going this route “which appears to be nothing more than a witch-hunt government could have sat with us and negotiated.”
In mid-October, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Stuart Young disclosed that Government through the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD), had filed claims in the court against five contractors for alleged “cartel” arrangements and attempts to defraud.
The five contractors were identified as TN Ramnauth and Company Limited, Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd, Kallco Company Ltd (Kallco), Namalco Construction Services Ltd (Namalco) and Fides Ltd (Fides).
The five are accused of colluding to defraud the State of over $200 million through bid-rigging and contracts with inflated costs. Young said the money was paid for the upgrading of traces and roads of former Caroni (1975) Ltd lands but which were found to be of “no value” and “worthless”.
Four of the contractors, Namalco, TN Ramnauth, Kallco and Ramhit, initiated legal action against the EMBD last year for recovery of monies that they allege are owed to them. The legal action by the EMBD followed 18 months of investigations.
In September, Kallco received a $400 million contract for the first phase of the proposed Manzanilla highway.
Contacted yesterday Kallco CEO Roger Ganesh told the T&T Guardian that the company had not yet received notice of the legal action from the EMBD, but he expected that it was only a matter of time, given what was in the public domain.
Kallco is owned by Arvin Kalloo, whose father Gareth Kalloo died on Monday at the age of 69. The elder Kalloo was not involved in the construction business but ran a premier luxury vehicle rental company.
Ganesh said the elder Kalloo was referred to as “Lord Kalloo,” after he chauffeured a member of the British Royal family on a visit to this country. His funeral is expected to take place on Thursday.