Sunday, February 25, 2018

LifeSport spending spree


Carapo exposed: The Carapo Mosque which was used as the base for the area’s LifeSport programme. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

Mark Fraser

At Carapo, Kardian Construction and Property Management owned by Anthony Hadad was paid $37,900 a month for cleaning services in the LifeSport programme.

However, at Carapo, LifeSport was conducted under a tent next to the mosque by co-ordinator Rajaee Ali.

“Examination of the above revealed an invoice related to cleaning services at Carapo Community Centre in the amount of $37,900. It should be noted that these participants are housed under tents, and as such, the provision of cleaning services needs further investigation as these cost may be exorbitant and questionable,” the Central Audit’s report into LifeSport revealed.

The report was tabled in Parliament Friday.

Ali is the son of the northwest leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, Imam Hassan Ali. 

R Ali, along with 17 others, was detained on Tuesday night but was released on Friday morning. R Ali was also detained for gang-related activity shortly after Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal was murdered. 

As a co-ordinator, he earned a monthly fee of $30,000 and was paid from the Ministry of Sport through a company called Varied Project Co-Operation Ltd, which is owned by the Imam.

“It was also agreed that each coordinator shall hire two supervisors and one secretary to assist in the performance of their duties. The two supervisors were to receive $5,000 per month each and the secretary $3,000 per month out of the $30,000 paid to these co-ordinators,” the audit stated.

However, the Central Audit said it was unable to verify whether the coordinators were in fact hiring the relevant staff as per the agreement.

“There also was no evidence that the Sport Company or the Ministry of Sport verified that the required staff were engaged before making the full payment,” the report said.

The Express was told by Ruth Marchan, the deputy programme director, that her bodyguard, Curtis “Tallman” Gibson, (who was murdered on June 26), worked with R Ali.

Imam Hassan Ali had a catering contract from LifeSport through his organisation Al Islamia Jama Ul Haqq.

The value of that catering contract was $88,500 a month.

Imam Hassan, in an interview published in the Express on May 19, said he helped mobilise voters to get the People’s Partnership Government into office in 2010 “against orders”.

During that Express interview R Ali told the Express that he was chosen by the Ministry of Sport to be head of Carapo’s LifeSport and had met Sport Minister Anil Roberts “about nine to ten times” in the past two years. Roberts is also the MP for the area, D’Abadie/O’Meara.

“People on the board chose people in different areas who they believe could co-ordinate the youths in the programme. I just came out of prison. Someone on the board who knew me, who went to school with me, told me about it,” R Ali had said.

 “I was chosen. Once I could get up to 60 participants, which I carried out. That is how the rumours started about Anil Roberts funding crime. He gave men in the constituency an option to do something legal, to make money fair,” R Ali had said. 

In 2004, R Ali was charged with the murder of Amadoo Huggins, when he was just 18. He has spent eight years in prison.

In 2007, he was one of three prisoners who escaped from Golden Grove Prison in Arouca, but was eventually caught and sent back and was released in 2011.

The Central Audit Committee had expressed concern about certain individuals who were contracted as co-ordinators for specific centres.  

“The police officers were also very apprehensive whether such individuals can reform the participants under their watch when they themselves may still be involved in criminal behaviour. One of the officers strongly believed that the Cocorite, Four Roads and Covigne Road centres may have some sort of allegiance with the Carapo centre. Central Audit could not verify whether any such allegiance exists,” the report stated.

The auditors stated: “Based on the history of some co-ordinators, the decision to give such persons the power to manage, control and authorise payments without proper supervision was ill-conceived.

“Based on circumstantial evidence it appears that some co-ordinators are in collusion with certain providers of goods and services, some participants and maybe even officers from the LS Programe.   According to the police officers there is a real concern that some questionable individuals are entrusted with the reformation of the participants,” it added.


The audit observed that  for  the  months of January 2014 to May 2014 the Carapo centre submitted names for stipends that were more than the maximum number approved for the centres and was paid. 

“Carapo on the other hand was approved for 60 participants and also submitted more than 60 names for each of the five months. For the months of April and May more than 80 names were submitted and for January and March the amount of names submitted exceeded 90,” it stated.

The auditors concluded:

1. Some participants are not interested but register just to collect the monthly stipend and the daily meals.

2. Some participants may not be the full beneficiary of the stipends, especially in areas where gang violence is rampant.

3. Some participants are forced to join the programme.

4. Some participants returned to a life of crime at the end of the programme if they are not successful in obtaining sustainable employment.

“A number of arguments were put forward by officials of the LS Programme for this payment strategy, especially in the ‘hot spots’. Most officials said that these youths, according to the local saying, ‘must eat and if they have nothing to eat someone will feel it.’

“The reasons put forward for the low attendance was that some of the participants have casual jobs and/or have court appearances and will join and attend part time because they need the food and money. Others may have returned to prison while some in the ‘hot spots’ may want to attend but due to gang and border wars were afraid.

“These concerns may be real, but even if all these arguments were accepted it indicates that someone was failing in his/her duty. If the objective of the Programme was the reformation of individuals and the individuals were absent, how can they be reformed? In addition, why would the co-ordinators enrol participants who resided out of the area if they know in advance, from the address given, that attendance will be difficult if not impossible due to the border wars?” the report stated.

The report has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the acting Commissioner of Police, the Integrity Commission and the head of the Public Service for action.