The Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is now unable to get information from the University of Massachusetts Boston in the United States with regard to a degree certificate which is said to be a false document submitted by former acting general manager of airports operations at the Airports Authority, Dayanand Birju.
Sources close to the Authority say when officials from the AATT contacted the University last week, they were told via e-mail, they (the AATT) needed to seek Birju’s permission to release any information pertaining to him.
Sources say no AATT official contacted Birju following this disclosure.
Essentially, this means that AATT’s hands are tied, since Birju is not obligated to assist them, having resigned his post two weeks ago.
Birju’s monthly salary at the AATT was $63,500 inclusive of perks.
The Sunday Express understands that an official police report is yet to be filed.
Chairman of the AATT board Trevor Benjamin has said that the matter has been passed to the AATT’s legal department.
Benjamin had said based on the advice given by the department, his board would be guided accordingly.
It was Benjamin, sources say, who requested the CV of Birju since the one on file could not be found.
Birju had promised to resubmit his CV and certificates, but never did. He tendered his resignation with immediate effect last month.
Efforts to contact Benjamin up to Friday were unsuccessful.
Sources say following this disclosure, the AATT board was told the matter needed to engage the attention of the police. However, nothing has been reported.
Sources say should a report be made, the police can utilise the services of Interpol in order to access information without Birju’s permission from the university.
Sources further say that the AATT can also contact the Accreditation Council of T&T in a bid to verify Birju’s records and also contact the university.
Efforts to contact the board’s deputy chairman attorney Carol Cuffy-Dowlath have also been unsuccessful.
In a previous interview when Cuffy-Dowlath was asked if the board would make a report to the police, she declined to answer.
She was also asked in her capacity as an attorney, whether she advised the board on the matter.
She did not answer and instead directed the questions to Benjamin.
On September 27, at 12.40 p.m., the Sunday Express e-mailed Attorney General Anand Ramlogan asking if he would consider pursuing civil action against Birju to recover the monies paid by taxpayers.
Ramlogan is yet to respond, despite being vocal in the past about taking legal action against several individuals whom he said squandered and received taxpayers’ monies.
A Sunday Express investigation revealed that Birju had submitted to the AATT what the university said was a certificate that was not authentic in order to obtain a managerial position. The certificate stated he had a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Checks by the Sunday Express showed there were several inconsistencies in the document submitted, including a nonexistent President and Trustee at the university.
When the Sunday Express called the university, this newspaper was told by Registrar of the university David Cesario, after the document was inspected: “I have reviewed (the certificate) and it is not authentic.”
Cesario said that Birju did attend the university from the fall of 1983 to fall 1987, but did not graduate.
Also commenting on the issue was Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz who said last week he had not yet decided if a police report should be lodged since in his opinion police involvement would only add greater embarrassment to Birju and his family.
Calls to Birju’s cellphone went unanswered last week.
When the Sunday Express contacted his land line a woman who answered the phone said: “We have no comment to make at all.”
Meanwhile, more than 300 employees attached to the AATT have signed a petition hoping to sway the board’s wait-and-see decision.
In a brief interview with the Sunday Express, second vice president of the Estate Police Association Emmanuel Henry said last week the petition will be handed to the AATT board.
“We have many issues ongoing and we are not being paid because management is saying they do not have money to pay us, yet they hired someone to make decisions for us and that someone is not qualified.”
Henry said the petition was geared towards showing management the dissatisfaction over the inability of the board to lodge an official police report.
“(Birju) received money from the coffers of the public purse and the allegations against him need to be dealt with accordingly.
We are therefore, calling on the board to ensure a report is made and the money paid back,” Henry said.
Should the board ignore the need to do what is right and report the matter, Henry said their next step will be to present the petition to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Contacted on Friday evening ag Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said the AATT board has both a moral and legal responsibility to lodge an official report to the police. Asked if the police can launch an investigation without such a report being made, Williams said: “Yes, that is a possibility. (But) one has to understand what is happening in this country.”
The top cop explained that if everything an individual heard about was to be investigated, then there will be no resources.
He said nowhere in the world police officers operated in such a way.
“You have institutions like the AATT and it’s critical if the AATT board have a challenge with fraud, there is a mandate, there is a demand, a responsibility, both moral and legal for the AATT to furnish an official complaint to the police department,” Williams said.
“Why should the police go and search out an investigation, when there is a responsibility on the AATT board to effectively manage the Airports Authority,” he said.
Williams said if the issue of the falsified document came up then probably the board thought “nothing is wrong with the issue”.
“Police cannot be in the middle of that,” he said.
Asked if any of his officers will approach the AATT board and request information, Williams said he has not directed any of his officers to do so.
“The (AATT board) has a responsibility to address matters under their authority, that is a State department, they have a State responsibility to report the matter,” he said.
On February 1, 2012, all
management at the AATT received an increase in salary following negotiations.
Birju’s basic monthly salary then moved to $41,500. He received an acting allowance of $16,000, entertainment allowance of $2,000 and housing allowance of $4,000. Collectively he received $63,500 per month.