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SporTT board fired

By \\\\\ Asha Javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

The Cabinet yesterday fired the board of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT), which is chaired by Sebastien Paddington.

Cabinet’s action follows the SporTT’s decision to pay off a $34 million contract to educator Adolphus Daniell’s EBeam Interact for work he did not do in the now defunct LifeSport programme.

The board of directors of SporTT were Reynold Bala, Norris Blanc, Nisa Dass, Anyl Gopeesingh, Sabrenah Khayyam, Matthew Quamina, Annan Ramnanansingh, Kent Samlal, Milson Siboo and Harnarine Singh.

Cabinet’s decision was taken on a day the Express’ editorial called for the board to be dismissed and for action to be taken by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan against the directors for breach of fiduciary duties.

Contacted yesterday, Ramlogan said that he had already indicated to the Express that the audit report was under active consideration with a view to restitution of public funds.

“I’ve retained the services of Deborah Peake SC to deal with the matter and rest assured that any claims or recovery of public funds will be vigorously pursued,” he said.

“I was disappointed in the Express’ editorial because I had already indicated my intention which was published in your newspaper but I anxiously await the findings and advice so I can proceed,” he added.

Cabinet’s decision to fire the SporTT board comes one week after former sport minister Anil Roberts  resigned following the public furore over the LifeSport scandal.

Roberts had told the Express he felt the EBeam payment was the tipping point for his exit from politics. 

The EBeam contract was highlighted in the Ministry of Finance’s Central Audit Committee’s audit report into LifeSport which has now been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Integrity Commission, the Commissioner of Police and the head of the Public Service.

In his resignation letter to House Speaker Wade Mark, Roberts has criticised the audit report into LifeSport, claiming it was flawed, especially with regard to the EBeam contract.

The audit revealed Daniell was paid $34 million by SporTT although no work was done. His $34 million payment was the single biggest payment in the programme.

Daniell has said he has no intention of returning the money.

“The thing about it is, it is a non-issue because the only way under a contract anything is recoverable is if the other party is in default. There was never a single letter of complaint that I was in default of this contract. Not even a phone call,” Daniell has said.

The role of the SporTT board has come under scrutiny for not only its decision and defence in awarding the multi-million payment to Daniell but for making the second payment although no work was executed.

The Express has reported that six days before SporTT received legal advice to pay an outstanding $17 million payment to Daniell’s EBeam Interact, a cheque had already been made out to him.

Daniell’s cheque for $17 million—the second half of a $34 million payment   to teach maths and English—was dated February 11, 2014.

SporTT received legal advice from attorney Anja Dass from JD Sellier on February 17 that it “is legally obligated under the contract to issue the remaining balance of the TT$17 million to EBeam”.

The Express reported it was former chief executive John Mollenthiel who drafted a note for the board of SporTT to approve the final payment based on his recommendation. He resigned from SporTT a few weeks ago.

The board has refused to answer questions from the Express on the contract because it was seeking legal advice.

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