...Chandresh’s son once worked for firm
Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma’s son, Suvarn, has been an employee of SNC-Lavalin, at least up until August.
The younger Sharma, 24, had been employed with the controversial Canadian construction company as a Junior cost controller in Toronto, until his contract ended, the Express was informed, but it may have been extended for a further three months.
The Express tried several times yesterday to contact Sharma, but was unable to reach him.
While Sharma’s position is not very lofty within the company, current high commissioner to Canada, Phillip Buxo’s post was.
From 2006 to 2010 (when he was politically appointed as high commissioner after the People’s Partnership came into Government after the May 2010 general election) Buxo held the position of Director of the Caricom Region Energy and Infrastructure Division of SNC-Lavalin.
Speaking to the Express in a brief telephone interview yesterday, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said the Government was aware of Buxo’s previous involvement but at least on the Trinidad side of negotiations through the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCoTT), he was not.
UDeCoTT, for which Moonilal is line minister, is the company through which negotiations with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) for the construction of the Penal Hospital are being conducted.
The CCC is a Canadian government agency that facilitates Canadian private sector companies that wish to participate in government-to-government arrangements.
The CCC in an e-mail response to the Express’ enquiries about Buxo’s involvement in the selection process, the CCC said: “The involvement of the high commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to Canada in the development of projects in Trinidad and Tobago is well within the trade development function of a high commissioner.”
He said he was not aware that Sharma’s son was employed at the company.
In June, SNC-Lavalin was awarded a $2.2 million contract to design the Penal Hospital. Yesterday, Moonilal said that all contracts and negotiations between the Government and SNC-Lavalin will be halted, and he requested that the CCC find another contractor. The main contract for the construction of the hospital is yet to be negotiated and awarded.