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TSTT gives no reason for 'surprise' move

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

The long-standing corporate relationship between the soca superstar Machel Montano and bmobile was "suspended" as of Tuesday.

No reason was given for the move although there had been calls for Montano to be dropped as a brand ambassador after he was found guilty on five criminal charges last December.

The surprise move came one day before Montano was scheduled to perform in the company's pre-Carnival concert series "Soca in b Square" yesterday in Woodford Square, Port of Spain.

Montano, is the defending Groovy and Power Soca Monarch, and is also in the race to retain the Road March title with 2013 hit Float.

In a release yesterday, TSTT, bmobile's parent company, said it had, "at this time, suspended all existing relationships" with Montano.

The brief statement reiterated TSTT's commitment to supporting the nation's culture.

The suspension comes 12 days after a letter from social activist group Fixin' T&T to TSTT's board, requesting the company "immediately disassociate" itself with Montano in light of his conviction on four offences of criminal assault and one charge of using obscene language after a fracas outside the Zen nightclub, Port of Spain in April 2007.

Montano was found guilty on December 10 and was scheduled to be sentenced on January 17, but the hearing has been adjourned to February 25.

TSTT's line Minister, Nizam Baksh, in a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, said the board had informed him of their decision.

"I'm sorry what has happened but it is a corporate responsibility issue, and they had to take a decision in the company's best interest," Baksh said.

Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, by whose Ministry Montano was commissioned to create the Going for Gold album in honour of the country's 50th anniversary of Independence said his Ministry "will not turn its back on Machel".

In a text message to the Express yesterday, Tewarie said, "We recognise his musical talent and his genuine contribution. I am sorry how things have turned out. I do not condone violence but I empathise with him and leave his sentencing to the court. I see no reason to make it harder for him. I wish him well and I know he will continue to contribute to our music and to the world of music."

Another of Montano's sponsors, Caribbean Airlines Ltd, is yet to release an official statement on their position regarding the artiste.

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