National Quarries owed US$.1m
...Miami broker was overpaid for purchase of equipment
Asha Javeed asha,email@example.com
Cash-strapped State company National Quarries (NQ) is still owed over half a million dollars (US$110,000) from a Miami-based broker company, Global Trade and Financing, that had facilitated a transaction for the purchase of an excavator in June.
Continuing investigations by the Express into the payment for the acquisition of a used excavator and dozer by the company, have revealed that not only did NQ pay an inflated price for the equipment but the company was not refunded the extra sums wire-transferred to secure the equipment.
In June 2013, NQ was expected to pay $2 million (US$317,968.75) to secure the excavator from Global Trade and Financing.
NQ’s corporate secretary Wilma Owen, on June 17, advised First Citizens bank to transfer the invoiced sum to the broker firm.
But eight days later, on June 26, NQ’s chief executive Sandra Fernandez was forced to write to Global Trade over an error after the bank erroneously wire-transferred US$427,968.75 ($2.6 million), an over-payment of US$110,000 ($693,000).
“Reference is being made to the purchase of one refurbished Volvo EC460 excavator. Please be advised that a total cost of the excavator is US$317,968.75,” she noted, asking that the outstanding sums be refunded to NQ’s current account at First Citizens.
Sources at NQ explained that the foreign exchange was acquired in tranches for the transaction by two banks—Scotiabank and First Citizens. This, they told the Express, resulted in the overpayment.
And despite Fernandez’s request, after almost three months no sum has been refunded to NQ’s accounts nor was her letter acknowledged.
Global Trade’s website only lists Luis Castillo, its president, as its contact person with an e-mail address and office number. Attempts by the Express to contact him via phone were unsuccessful and he did not respond to an e-mail on the matter.
The Sunday Express had exclusively published that NQ had acquired a Volvo Hydraulic Excavator EC460BLC valued at US$92,000 ($579,600) and a Caterpillar Crawler Dozer D8R Series valued at US$94,000 ($592,200) with a total price of US$186,000 ($1,171,800) from E R Truck and Equipment.
However, the company believed it had paid Global Trade US$317,968.65 for only an excavator.
Express calculations have identified an unaccounted sum of $831,402 (US$131,968.65) given that NQ had wire-transferred US$317,968.65 but only paid US$186,000. But, in addition to the money that has not been refunded, the company now has an unaccounted sum of $1,524,492.
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, in an e-mail to the Express yesterday, said the Ministry Of Energy and Energy Affairs “is very concerned about the nature of the allegations that have been raised publicly in the course of several articles carried in the Express newspaper over that last few weeks, relative to the National Quarries Co Ltd (NQCL).”
He said he had directed the ministry’s director of Minerals to meet with Fernandez and NQ’s chairman Mitra Ramkhelawan to discuss the issues raised in the Express articles on September 26.
In addition, he said he met with the NQ’s board on October 4.
“The company has been asked to provide the ministry with reports in respect of each of the four articles published by the Express. Reports have already been received in respect of the first three articles and the ministry is currently reviewing these reports,” he said.