Devant: Agri Society members called in cops
Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj said yesterday that it was members of the board of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago who approached the Fraud Squad with a view to having Dhano Sookoo, president of the ASTT, investigated.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference, Maharaj said: “Members of the ASTT, at least nine of them, having amassed documentary evidence in their mind which cast a serious question mark over the operations, management and control of the ASTT under the stewardship of the current president, took the issue to the Fraud Squad to initiate and trigger an investigation of the same matters”.
However, he said since coming into office, he was “ambushed and waylaid” by allegations against the same organisation and the same individual.
He said he had seen internal audit reports by the Ministry of Food Production, audits by the Ministry of Finance which tend to suggest that there are questionable activities that demand a deeper analysis and investigation.
Furthermore, Maharaj said, the ministry signed an MOU with the ASTT in January of this year and within weeks the MOU was breached.
“It caused a situation where officers of the Ministry of Food Production were going on a weekly or fortnightly basis to the ASTT to examine its accounts,” he said.
He added that the ministry received complaints from public officers who worked at ASTT about their salaries being withheld.
He said the ministry also received reports about the assets of the ASTT being sold off or threatened to be sold off. “All of these and many more issues have caused the Ministry of Food Production to be concerned about the management of the ASTT. However, the complaint that was made to the Fraud Squad was made by board members of the ASTT who were unhappy with the stewardship of the organisation. I share their concerns,” Maharaj said.