Businessman and broadcaster Inshan Ishmael has confirmed he is the man who taped and released Government Minister Gerald Hadeed making damning comments about United National Congress (UNC) officials.
At the time the recording was made, Hadeed was chairman of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT).
Numerous efforts by the Sunday Express to reach Hadeed for comment have been unsuccessful.
Repeated calls to his cellphone and office since last Monday were not returned.
Efforts were also made to contact fired minister Chandresh Sharma whose name was also called by Hadeed in the recording, but there was no response. The Sunday Express was told that Sharma is currently attending a parliamentary conference in Canada.
The Sunday Express also tried contacting High Commissioner to Canada Phillip Buxo and Ambassador to Washington, DC Dr Neil Parsan but was unsuccessful. Several messages left were not returned.
The recording, which is five minutes and 21 seconds long, has gone viral and addresses concerns over a Government minister allegedly attempting to interfere with the tendering process at the AATT in a bid to satisfy his friends by awarding them contracts.
The recording focuses mainly on claims of Government not attempting to address corruption.
“They don’t want nobody who will stand up against corruption. They don’t want that. They want corruption, they want people who will do their (expletive) bidding....,” Hadeed says in the tape in which he also criticises the inability of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to extricate herself from “ah setta rats she have around her”.
It also makes reference to the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin.
SNC Lavalin had secured a $1 billion contract for the Penal Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre. However, after concerns were raised by the Opposition over the company being implicated in bid-rigging and corruption, the government scrapped the contract.
Speaking with the Sunday Express yesterday afternoon, Ishmael, owner of the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN) said he and Hadeed were having a telephone conversation which Ishmael recorded. This conversation took place a little over a year ago.
Checks by the Sunday Express revealed around that time Hadeed was chairman of the AATT having been appointed in 2012. He subsequently demitted the position citing medical reasons.
In September 2013, Hadeed was appointed Communications Minister and earlier this year was appointed Tourism Minister.
Asked why he recorded the conversation, Ishmael said: “Due to the nature of my job. What I do.. 99.9 per cent of my conversations are recorded. When you are in the business of media, you get threats almost on a daily basis from contractors and their minions, so all conversations are recorded,” he said.
The Sunday Express asked if Hadeed was aware he was being taped.
“Anybody who calls my phone, the fact is even if they are not aware...if you look at the wire tapping law, if someone external plays the recording, you have a problem. If it’s someone involved in the conversation, then there’s no problem,” he said.
Following the release of the recording, Ishmael said he has not contacted Hadeed or vice versa.
“I have no reason now to contact Mr Hadeed,” he said.
Ishmael said after the conversation in which Hadeed claimed the Government is corrupt, he was shocked when Hadeed was announced as a minister in the re-shuffled Cabinet.
“I was shocked, I nearly collapsed,” he said.
Last month, a video recording was aired exclusively on TV6 showing a man who looks like a Government Minister seemingly involved in an illicit activity in a hotel room in the company of several women.
Sport Minister Anil Roberts is yet to confirm or deny it is him the video features.
His failure to respond to questions posed to him by the Congress of the People (COP) has led to his being suspended from the party.
Ishmael claimed the recording done with Hadeed is not the only one in his possession.
“There are others involving ministers and these ministers are aware of them.
“Some of the recordings will shock this country,” he said.
Claiming that various contractors have been complaining about “giving kickbacks to ministers when they get contracts”, Ishmael said he has e-mailed the recordings to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar which implicate some of her ministers involved in domestic abuse, collection of bribes and other illegal acts, but to date nothing has been done.
“Board members are meeting and agreeing not to give Muslims contracts, the recordings were sent to the Prime Minister of T&T and she did nothing,” he said.
Kurt Ajodha named
Former deputy manager of the Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) Kurt Adjodha says allegations of wrongdoing made against him are not true.
Ajodha was named by Hadeed in the recording as being close friends with Chandresh Sharma and using his position on the AATT board to grant concessions.
“He partner Ajodha was ah (expletive removed) fraud. That’s he real (expletive removed) bosom partner, he giving him work all over the place, to do this and to do that. And Ajodha use to....he was the chairman of the Tenders Committee and trying to do all the (expletive) nasty work,” Hadeed says in the recording.
Ajodha told the Sunday Express by phone on Friday: “First of all I am unaware of any clip. Secondly any allegations made with fraud are false.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, you can acquire information from the AATT in writing and everything is there including board minutes or any decisions made and one can see I acted within the legislation and the law.”
Ajodha said all claims made in the recording against him are “absolutely false”.
“I can’t do that. I can’t act alone. As I said those are absolutely false statements, I haven’t heard the tape to that extent, I only heard something that they had on a next clip.
“This is the first I’m hearing my name being called.
I can stand up in a court of law and defend myself,” he said.
Asked by the Sunday Express about his relationship with Hadeed during their tenure at the AATT, Ajodha said: “He was the chairman and I was the deputy, we had a working relationship.”
Ajodha in June last year submitted his resignation following a disclosure by Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert during debate in Parliament that his academic qualifications were incorrect.
Imbert had disclosed that Ajodha did not possess the qualifications stated on his CV.
Asked by the Sunday Express to comment about his lack of qualifications at the time, Ajodha said: “At this point in time, I don’t want to comment on anything with regards to the Airports Authority.
“I’m no longer there anymore and the media has taken their toll in the direction in which they took the matter and I really don’t want to have anything to do with the AA or statements being made against me.
“I opted for the right to resign and I did resign,” he said.