Saturday, February 24, 2018

$2m more for Daniell


On the day Adolphus Dan­iell signed a $34 million con­tract with the Sport Com-­pany (SporTT)—for which he did no work—he was given an extra $2 million.

Daniell was actually paid $36 million by SporTT and not the $34 million, which is the sum in his contract.

The $2 million amount, which was wire transferred on December 6, 2012—the same date the contract was signed—was not provided for or included in the actual contract.

The contract states specifically the fee for Daniell’s EBeam company to teach mathematics, English and technology in the recently terminated LifeSport pro­gramme was $34 million.

There was no explanation as to whether the $2 million was needed as a mobilisation fee, as a bonus, or for equipment purchase to begin teaching the maths and English component of the programme.

The contract was signed by for­mer chief executive of the Sport Company John Mollenthiel and Dani­ell on the same day, with Mol­len­thiel’s exec­utive assistant, Judy Hills-Prima, as a witness.

The contract was only rati­fied at a board meeting on March 8, 2013. 

The board minutes on that date stated: “The board ratified the deci­­­­­­sion made on 6th Decem­­ber, 2012, to award the contract for the nume­­racy and literacy compo­nents of the Life Sport programme to EBeam Interact Limited in the sum of TT$34 million, based on the fact, among other things, that the recom­mendation was made by the per­ma­nent secretary in the Min­istry of Sport (Ash­win Creed) to the CEO of SporTT (then Mollenthiel). Board appro­val will be required for any addi­tional pay­ment in excess of the TT$34 million to EBeam Interact Limi­ted for the numeracy and lite­ra­cy com­ponent of the LifeSport pro­gramme.”

Daniell’s $34 million contract was highlighted in two audits conducted by the Ministry of Finance’s Central Audit into the payment system at LifeSport because he was paid for no work.

But for 19 months, the former board of SporTT said it was un­aware of the $2 million wire transfer to Daniell in a letter to Finance Min-ister Larry Howai, dated August 6. 

LifeSport was fun­ded by loans taken by SporTT from First Citizens. The Govern­ment will have to repay those loans with tax­payers’ dollars.

“In SporTT’s efforts to gather all information related to the LifeSport programme, it was discovered that a wire transfer of TT$2 million was made to EBeam Interact Limited on 6th December, 2012, by Mr Mollenthiel on the very day of the contract and that:

• There was no board approval for same

• This payment was not provided for in the contract

• The contract appears to have been backdated (see attached),” the letter stated.

The attached letter was dated May 6 and was a letter from Mollenthiel to permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport Creed, titled: “Funding for

the Life Skills and Literacy & Nume­racy Component of the Life­Sport pro­gramme”.

“Since the beginning of 2013, the ministry has provided one million dollars in support of the Life Skills component. This allowed the two respective providers to be paid for the past two weeks of December 2012 and the month of January 2013. At this time, however, payments for February 2013 come forward remain outstanding. Further, the contract for the Literacy & Numeracy programme remains unsigned, in the absence of the available funding. Given the criticality and signifi­cance of the aforementioned two com­po­nents to the success of the LifeSport pro­gramme, your guidance and assis­tance in the matter is urgently reques­ted,” stated Mollenthiel.

There was no mention of the $2 million December payment to EBeam.

EBeam was paid the $34 million in two instalments of $17 million—

the first instalment, which repre­sen­ted 50 per cent of the fee, was paid on

June 14, 2013, and the second pay­ment was dated February 11, 2014.

The authorised limit a permanent secretary can sign off on is $1 million while the authority limit for chief executives varies according to the State enterprise.

The Sunday Express contacted Finance Minister Larry Howai yester­day to question if he was aware Daniell actually got $36 million and not $34 million as identified in the audit.

Howai’s strategic communications adviser, Cheryl Lalla, responded: 

“The Ministry of Finance and Eco­nomy (MOFE) was not aware of this $2 million payment before receiving this information from SporTT last week, well after issuing the Final Report on the audit of LifeSport. As has already been stated by Minister Howai, the Central Audit Unit was not given all the information it asked for, despite repeated requests during its investigation of LifeSport. The MOFE shares your concern about this

additional payment and is inves­ti­gating the matter further.”

Attorney General Anand Ramlo­gan yesterday said he was unaware of the development, having forwarded all documents pertaining to LifeSport to Senior Counsel Deborah Peake, who his ministry has retained. 

“I am anxiously awaiting the report and will take appropriate action when it is delivered. Rest assured, I will pursue restitution where I can. It is highly unethical for someone to retain payment in circumstances where the expected work or service was not de­livered,” he told the Sunday Express.

The Sunday Express tried unsuc­cessfully to get further clarification on this payment from Mollenthiel and Daniell.

Daniell has requested the Sunday Express respect his wishes and not contact him further. Mollenthiel has not responded to calls or texts from the Sunday Express.

The SporTT board was fired by Cabinet last week. 

Creed is on pre-retirement leave from the ministry.

Timeline of EBeam and $34m contract

 • EBeam Interact was registered on August 9, 2007, by attorney 

Allison Eustace Luther Roberts, of Roberts and Company. He is the father of former sport minister Anil Roberts. The directors of the company are Adolphus Daniell and Gloria Kirton. 

• LifeSport was started in Aug­ust 2012.

• On September 4, 2012, Daniell submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Sport to teach Math and English throughout Trinidad as part of the LifeSport programme. The cost of that two-year programme was $7.5 million for the first year and $4.5 million for the second year—a total of $12 million

• Two months later, on November 4, 2012, Daniell again submitted the proposal to the ministry. This time, the cost of the two-year programme was revised to $11 million for the first year and $11 million for the second year—a total of $22 million. 

• When the contract was signed, it was for $34 million. 

• Daniell said no work was done in the programme because he said the centres were inadequate. “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,” he told the Sunday Express on July 27.

• Daniell’s contact to provide lessons for the programme was from December 6, 2012, with a 

projected completion date of 

September 30, 2014.

• The LifeSport audit was tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and 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. The audit uncovered the pro­gramme was riddled with financial irregularities, had co-ordinators with criminal backgrounds, massive fraud, millions misspent, ghost centres, ghost participants, improper procurement and theft.

• Daniell’s $34 million payment was the single biggest payment of the programme for no work. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has retained Deborah Peake SC in a bid to secure public funds.