Did Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin offer bribes to the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government?
Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday claimed the PNM was hypocritical in condemning the People’s Partnership Government with respect to the controversy surrounding SNC-Lavalin and the Penal hospital.
Moonilal said under the former PNM administration, SNC-Lavalin was awarded a contract for a project that escalated to some $2.5 billion.
He was responding to PNM Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert, who moved a motion asking the Government to, inter alia, terminate existing contracts with SNC-Lavalin for the Penal Hospital Project and to subject all future projects to open and transparent tendering.
Noting Imbert’s points with respect to the corruption cases against the company, Moonilal said: “It leaves one to wonder how much bribe they may have paid in that period 2009, how much party contribution they may have made, since my friend advances that this is their modus operandi. Which car park they went into, who they may have bribed, what they may have done, if my friend is to be believed that this is the character of this international contractor.”
Describing Imbert as a “Google master”, Moonilal questioned why he did not disclose that the PNM had contracted the very SNC-Lavalin for a project at Petrotrin.
SNC-Lavalin, he said, was appointed project manager to provide project management services for the Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel Project work being undertaken at Petrotrin. “The board of Petrotrin, led then by I think the former chairman was Malcolm Jones, awarded a contract to SNC-Lavalin for project management services at a meeting of July 15, 2009, when they would have known of this legacy of corruption.”
“Mr Speaker, the overall project, the budget has increased from US$350 million to US$425 million—that is $2.5 billion.”
Moonilal said the People’s Partnership Government selected SNC-Lavalin to design the Penal hospital based on recommendations from the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC).
He questioned who recommended the company to the PNM in 2009 and whether a due diligence was provided.
“They should have alerted us to this legacy of corruption which they encouraged on Trinidad and Tobago soil and then come today pious, holier than thou, to tell us fire them, which we did; but you didn’t, you hired them and encouraged them.”
Moonilal stressed that SNC-Lavalin was contracted by this Government before they were banned by the World Bank.
He disclosed a number of letters written by Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (UDeCOTT) chairman Jearlean John to emphasise that the State entity followed due process and requested a due diligence from the company.
“At the meeting of the Cabinet yesterday, a decision was taken to terminate all contractual arrangements with SNC-Lavalin. As of today, we can say to SNC-Lavalin, au revoir!” said Moonilal.