Chaguanas officer transferred
Cop delivers suspension letter to National Quarries CEO...
Asha Javeed firstname.lastname@example.org
A Chaguanas-based police officer was yesterday immediately transferred after it was discovered that he twice visited the home of suspended National Quarries (NQ) chief executive Sandra Fernandez in St Joseph without any authorisation or official police business.
Furthermore, the policeman’s supervisor, Supt Johnny Abraham, has launched an investigation into who directed the officer to visit Fernandez’s home to deliver letters.
On October 10, the officer along with a female colleague used a PCZ vehicle attached to the Chaguanas CID to deliver a suspension letter to Fernandez around midnight.
Fernandez, who had reported an alleged fraud cover-up at the State enterprise to the Fraud Squad that same day, told the Express that she did not come out of her house to talk to the police but her neighbour received the letter and handed it over to her in the morning.
Yesterday, at about 1.30 p.m., the officer along with a female colleague again went to Fernandez’s home to deliver another letter.
However, Fernandez did not take the letter but instead alerted the police and her lawyers.
St Joseph is outside the jurisdiction of the Chaguanas police. The police vehicle left shortly after.
When the Express contacted Abraham yesterday and asked if it was normal for police officers to deliver suspension letter, he immediately said no.
Questioned on what action he would take, he immediately responded, “You mean what action have I taken? The officer was transferred immediately. Whether it is a criminal or police, I took immediate steps. I don’t tolerate nonsense.”
Asked whether the officer was questioned on whose instructions he was acting, if not the police, Abraham answered, “He was not acting on a Police Service order. We have initiated an investigation to determine whose instructions he was acting on.”
The Express understands the officer was moved from patrol duty and transferred to the Chaguanas charge room.
Fernandez yesterday admitted to the Express that the situation has distressed her and her family and she had had second thoughts about going to the police.
Last Thursday, NQ’s chairman Mitra Ramkhelawan issued a suspension letter to Fernandez citing her questionable qualifications for the job. Ramkhelawan informed the board of his decision through an e-mail issued at 11 p.m. on October 10.
Fernandez, who has been employed at NQ for the past two years, was hired by Ramkhelawan.
NQ’s director Satee Chillar said the decision to suspend the company’s chief executive was solely that of Ramkhelawan.
Chillar had told the Express that it should have been a board decision but the board was not consulted on the matter.
Ramkhelawan, who had issued a full-page advertisement in the daily newspapers to refute investigative reports into the State company said: “In keeping with established board practice, the suspension was shared with the board of directors prior and via the usual means.
Careful record of such notification has been documented.”
Fernandez has reported that senior officials at the company have been covering up their tracks by forging letters, which they submitted to the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Finance in an attempt to cover up the acquisition of two pieces of equipment for $2 million.
The Express had reported that NQ paid $2 million for an excavator and a bulldozer, even though it got only the excavator. The excavator went to NQ but the bulldozer went to a worksite at Gopaul & Company.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday said he was alarmed that police officers could be used to intimidate citizens they were supposed to protect.
He told the Express that he had asked the acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams to investigate it.
Griffith said the situation underscored the need for whistle-blower protection in T&T.
“There are many people who are aware of white-collar crime but are afraid to come out and take a stand for fear of victimisation.
“No law enforcement agency should be getting involved in matters such as suspension letters. But this is where I have a concern. If law enforcement officers are suspended or transferred it does not deal with the problem. You just transfer the problem. A mechanism should be put in place to have those officers removed from the system, he said.
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said when the matter was brought to his attention, he called the National Security Minister.
Ramnarine noted that the Ministry of Finance had triggered an audit into NQ through its Central Audit Committee, which began on Monday.
Ramnarine said he would wait until the investigations were completed.
He also said that Gregory Nurse, one of the directors at NQ, resigned yesterday.