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E-mails query suspended NP CEO’s papers

By Denyse Renne denyse.renne@trinidadexpress.com

E-mails have surfaced purporting to show suspended chief executive officer at National Petroleum (NP), Kenneth Mohammed, does not possess the academic qualifications he says he has.

Contacted yesterday, Mohammed said he was not surprised over the e-mails.

In an e-mail sent yesterday morning to various media houses, the documents attached were exchanges purporting to be from Brooks University, stating Mohammed did not attain an MBA degree from the institution.

Mohammed told the Express in a telephone  interview: “I saw the e-mails.”

He maintained, however, that he does have an MBA in Business Administration from the said university and is ACCA qualified.

“Of course I have my qualifications. I would not have been hired in several international firms if I didn’t,” Mohammed said.

The suspended CEO explained that “two or three months ago when 68 employees were fired” and he was subsequently  suspended, “I got a message from the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU)  saying they would do whatever it takes to discredit me, whether it’s true or false, so I was expecting this a long time ago.”

Adding that he no longer wants to be affiliated with NP, Mohammed said he has tendered his resignation and has already indicated to NP his position will be vacant by month’s end.

“I have already tendered my resignation. I told them I am not coming back. I need to get out of their clutches. ... I will be out of there before the end of the month,” he said.

Stating the letters contained in yesterday’s e-mail “do not even have a letterhead”, Mohammed questioned the wording of the responses, asking: “Why would someone start off by saying dear OWTU”?

“Let them go on, I am having my lawyers respond to Mr OWTU,” he said.

Mohammed claimed the OWTU was trying to discredit him since the union was of the opinion that he acted alone in firing the employees.

“The 68 people who were fired, I didn’t make that decision alone, it was myself, management, the board and the minister. Everyone was consulted and involved. In fact, I had strong views not to fire them and I was suspended,” Mohammed said.

He further claimed his suspension had nothing to do with his qualifications but “a deterioration of my relationship  with the chairman and the board”.

Following the firings, Mohammed claimed he has gotten two death threats and “people calling my phone saying they know where my children live”.

Stating he is a nobody, Mohammed said the issue is now in the hands of his lawyers.

Calls to the cellphone of OWTU president-general Ancel Roget went unanswered yesterday.

On March 1, 2012, Mohammed was appointed CEO on a three-year contract.

He was suspended last October by NP board chairman Neil Gosine.

The company did not state how long Mohammed has been suspended for, but maintained his services were not terminated.

NP has come under scrutiny recently in the award of gas station contracts for new retailers and was investigating bribery allegations in connection with them.

 The State company has received a report following the investigation which identifies a relationship between an NP official and a specific retailer who was granted a lucrative gas station location in June.

Sources told the Express the NP board intends to conduct further investigations into the allegations against the NP official who has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the NP board.

Following the award of gas station contracts after NP issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for 28 stations, among the successful applicants were Damian Lyder, husband of Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Stacy Roopnarine, who was awarded the St Augustine-based station; Basdeo Sharma, ex-husband of restaurateur Jenny Sharma of Jenny’s on the Boulevard, who was assigned the Valencia station; Elie Zakour, a director on the Solid Waste Management Co Ltd board who was assigned the Starlite (Diego Martin) station; and Fides Ltd (whose directors are Amelia Rampersad and Shane Sagar), which was assigned the Tragarete Road, Port of Spain station.

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