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UNC wants

Monday, September 17, 2018
Senator Wade Mark displays a copy of the Solomon report during a press conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Photo by:SHIRLEY BAHADUR

The Opposition is calling on the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to conduct an investigation as it relates to the transaction of the Galleons Passage.

The UNC is also reiterating its call for the Government to make the Dunn and Bradstreet Report on the vessel public.

The UNC held a midday news conference yesterday to deal with three issues— the Galleons Passage, Petrotrin and the Sandals deal in Tobago.

Opposition Senator Wade Mark spoke on the Galleons Passage, Senator Gerald Ramdeen spoke on Petrotrin and Senator Saddam Hosein spoke on the Sandals project.

The Opposition is alleging that it has seen the bill of sale for the vessel which indicates that it was sold to the Government for US$ one dollar, but for which a cheque of US$17.4 million was subsequently paid to Sea Lease Ltd and was signed by Stuart Ballayntyne.

Mark questioned what he called “the deviation.”

He noted that when the Memorandum of Understanding was signed on January 12, 2018, between Nidco and Sea Lease of Australia, “we saw the signatories as Stuart Ballayntyne and one Dawson as a witness and for Trinidad and Tobago Nidco we saw Esther Farmer and Mr Herbert George representing Nidco.”

But what he found “interesting” according to Mark, is that “all future communications and discussion on the Galleons Passage should be referred to Vishnu Dhanpaul of the Ministry of Finance, we find that a very strange development.”

Mark has called on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to clear the air on the matter.

Mark said the UNC saw the Bill of Sale for the Galleons Passage and it raised further concerns “why on the one hand the Bill of Sale said Stuart Ballayntyne sold the vessel to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago through Nidco for one dollar and on the other hand the same Stuart Ballayntyne signs a document with his passport number, his full name, his status as a director of Sea Lease for US$17.4 million.”

Mark said in light of this, the UNC is calling on the FIU to conduct an investigation into the matter. “All is not well as it relates to this transaction,” he added.

Mark also again raised concerns about the companies involved. He said the first company was “Sea Transport of Australia, it is the operational arm of the Ballayntyne Group, when it came to payment we moved from Sea Transport to Sea Lease which has only one shareholder Sea Management Corporation Services and is held in Trust for the Dawson and Ballayntyne families.”

Mark said although the Galleons Passage cost taxpayers “US$ 18 million or TT$125 million, since it was purchased and signed off on January 12, 2018 it is yet to make its maiden sea bridge voyage carrying the number we were told it will carry 700 passengers and close to 100 vehicles.”

He said, “Not even the Cabinet is brave enough to venture on a sea trial.”

Mark declared that it was the “fraud of the century,” as he accused the government of “perpetuating a hoax on the nation.”

“Today represents just over two months since the Dona Mercedes rechristened the Galleons Passage came into the Port-of- Spain Habour, there have been two sea trials,” the latest of which was on Saturday. Mark said the vessel is costing the country more money “if you don’t remember eight million dollars was allocated to establish ramps at the ports at Scarborough and Port of Spain to facilitate the vessel.”

Mark called on the Prime Minister and the Ministerial team which was appointed to source a vessel for the seabridge which included finance Minister Colm Imbert to tell the country “when it will be able to make the maiden voyage with passengers.”

Efforts to contact Finance Minister Colm Imbert proved futile.

See Page A7


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