Tuesday, February 20, 2018

NGC awards two multi-$m contracts to security firm

...Owned by UNC financier

The National Gas Company (NGC) has awarded two multi-million dollar contracts to security firm Executive Bodyguard Services Ltd (EBSL).

EBSL, sources say, was bought by a United National Congress financier in August 2012.

The financier who is also a contractor, bought the firm from businessman Samuel Stafford for US$14 million (TT$88 million).

The Sunday Express understands that though Stafford sold EBSL, his name remains listed as the company’s owner as opposed to the financier.

When the Sunday Express contacted NGC vice president, Human and Corporate Relations Cassandra Patrovani-Sylvester, she confirmed in an e-mail response the award of the contracts to EBSL.

She stated the process by which EBSL was selected came after “tenders were invited from contractors on NGC’s list of pre-qualified contractors, in accordance with NGC’s Tender Rules and Regulations”.

Patrovani-Sylvester was also asked whether NGC’s chairman Roop Chan Chadeesingh formed part of the panel which selected EBSL. She said no.

Sources told the Sunday Express that Chadeesingh is also an attorney and is close friends with the financier. He has advised the financier on numerous occasions on several legal matters.

Sources further added that the sale raised several eyebrows within the Ministry of National Security since such a transaction needed to be officially recorded.

Following the sale of EBSL, the firm has become the recipient of several lucrative contracts from both State enterprises and ministries.

Furthermore, sources state that in the past EBSL tendered for several government contracts but always lost out to Allied Security, Amalgamated and Innovative Security.

But this soon changed following the sale.

On September 7, 2012, EBSL was awarded a $8,413,344.00 plus $1,262,001.60 value added tax contract for two years for postings at the Office of the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. That contract ends this year and sources say it will be renewed.

Stafford, the Sunday Express understands following the sale used the proceedings to establish a military/defence equipment and apparel business. This business, the Sunday Express understands deals heavily in design and development of body armour and various military equipment and has several licences to import and export arms and ammunition.

Checks by the Sunday Express revealed  Stafford’s business website is www.kick-az.com/index.asp.

Despite the business being sold, the Sunday Express understands that Stafford still manages to equip security guards of EBSL whenever they receive State contracts.

In the case of the NGC contracts, an order was placed for 100 pair of boots of which Stafford supplied.

Directors speak

When the Sunday Express contacted EBSL’s director and chief executive officer Darrin Carmichael and executive director Nigel Bissoon both men were hesitant to discuss EBSL.

Carmichael when asked for the reason(s) EBSL still remains in Stafford name as opposed to the financier, hurriedly told Sunday Express he was in a meeting. He then disconnected the call. 

The Sunday Express repeatedly called his cellphone several times, left voice messages but none were returned.

Bissoon said as far as he is aware Stafford is the legal owner of EBSL.

He said if EBSL “has been sold...(well) I could only operate on what is legal and EBSL as far as I know EBSL is owned by Mr Stafford”.

In defending the awarding of the contract, Bissoon said EBSL tendered for a variety of contracts which were listed in the newspaper including regional health authorities and the NGC.

The Sunday Express also contacted Stafford and posed several questions to him. Stafford when contacted two Thursdays ago at 2.10 p.m. said he was in a meeting and would call back after the meeting. He did not do so.

When the Sunday Express contacted him again at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8.30 p.m., Stafford did not answer. Subsequent calls two Fridays ago also went unanswered and all voice mails left were not returned.