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posted 3 Oct 2011, 22:04 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 4 Oct 2011, 15:33 ]




The politico/business elite’s parasitic and corrupted modus operandi is an impediment to both national and Caricom development. 

Trinbago’s ruling elites of parasitic corporate leaders and politicians have demonstrated by their actions and relationships over the last 20 years that all our political parties are inter-woven into a corrupted web of mutual money interests with major business elites. 
“I fund your Party’s election. You now have State power. You now fund me from state resources and protect me from the law. At the same time that I am getting richer off the State, you will get a little richer from part of my ill-gotten gains”.  

They feed off the national patrimony, through over pricing on ill-gained contracts and over pricing of goods and services supplied to the State. They live off the fat of the land: with politicians facilitating retailing of substandard products at high prices netting as much as 300% profit, dumping near obsolete products on consumers, nepotism in appointments to State positions and strategic leadership of government boards, agencies and commissions dealing in billions of citizens’ dollars. 

As recently unearthed with CL Financial and Hindu Credit Union, politicians turn blind eyes and deaf ears to complaints of violations of financial regulations and rules and abuse of depositors’ funds. There are now rumours that the web of politico/business corruption even involves the illicit gun and drug trade. 

These corrupted practices are endemic, an established culture of Trinbago’s economic and political life. This unholy and corrupted alliance is a serious obstacle to diversification of the economy, impedes national economic and social development and militates against the development of Caricom by reducing the availability of development funds to our neighbours. 

These neighbours through continuous immigration have greatly contributed to our development and are our major trading partners and export markets for our manufactured goods, our services and our investments. 

The natural gas dollars are running through our country like doses of milk and honey for an elite cabal of corrupted political and business elites for the past 21 years. Working people on the other hand are left with bitter pills of minimum wages, a disorganized and inadequate education system, poverty in both urban and rural areas, high crime rates, substandard public health facilities and other social conditions that are undeserving to citizens of a wealthy country with a small population. 

Let us look at the web of inter-connections, inter-locking and incestuous relationships among some of our top politicians and some big wigs of our big business class. 

Lawrence Duprey, Chairman of CL Financial and Jack Warner, was involved in a FIFA allegation of bribery and resigned from FIFA. He is the Chairman of UNC and Minister of Works. Both were alleged to be main financiers of Panday’s UNC when that Party got power in 1995. 

Duprey even went so far as to speak on the UNC platform. Duprey was a witness for Panday in a court matter allegedly involving unethical practices. Panday is involved in another court matter of a London Bank account with money allegedly given by... Duprey. 

Carlos John, Duprey’s assistant and CL Financial executive, was a former Minister of Works in Panday’s UNC. John is also in court on a matter involving an allegation of corruption. Mr. John was on the campaign trail for the governing PP in 2010. 

Mervyn Assam, former Chairman of CLICO Investment Bank, was a Minister of Trade in the Panday UNC Government and ambassador to the Court of St. James. He is now an ambassador with the PP Government. 

Robert Mayers, a leader of COP (a member of the PP government) and a former NAR leader was a top executive of CL Financial subsidiary Caribbean Money Market Brokers. 

Bhoe Tewarie, member of COP, a former Minister of the NAR and Principal of UWI during the period of UNC Government and now Minister of Planning and Development in the PP government was a director of CL Financial. 

Steve Ferguson, for the greater part of a decade facing extradition to the USA over the Piarco Airport scandal, was a top executive of Maritime Life and former NAR member. He campaigned for Panday’s UNC, reportedly donated to the PP, and was once the Chairman of the National Gas Company, a state enterprise whose activity may account for 10% of Gross Domestic Product. NGC invested close to a billion dollars in CIB. 

Ish Galbaransingh is the owner of several large companies involving tourism, construction and fast food (Royal Castle). He was close to Wendell Mottley and the PNM during the first Manning regime. He campaigned for Panday’s UNC and was the Chairman of TIDCO, a major state enterprise. Ish reportedly donated to the PP and is now facing extradition to the USA as a result of the Piarco Airport “feeding frenzy” of corruption. 

Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Trade in the PP government and the owner of his own group of companies, is currently being accused of allegedly using his political connections to land lucrative contracts with State Bodies. 

Andre Monteil, former Financial Director of CL Financial, was for many years the Treasurer of the PNM. He first came into the spotlight as Chairman of T&TEC, the state’s electricity company and Chairman of the T&TEC workers Pension Plan. A substantial block of T&TEC workers’ shares in Republic Bank was sold during his tenure to a company called Viveka Holdings. 

These shares ended up being owned by CL Financial, which gained controlling shares in Republic Bank. Monteil was also the chairman of the state Housing Corporation as well as the Chairman of CIB and the Home Mortgage Bank. It is alleged that Monteil was close to Calder Hart, the Chairman of Mega State owned entities, the Urban Development Corporation (UDECOTT), National Insurance Board (NIB) and National Insurance Property Development Corporation (NIPDEC). All these appointments were under the PNM. 

NIB invested close to a billion dollars in CIB of which Monteil is a former Chairman. Hart is currently the subject of an enquiry into his behaviour as Chairman of UDECOTT. He fled the country. 

Brian Kwei Tung a former Minister in the first Manning regime (PNM) switched to the UNC and became Minister of Finance. It is said he is related to Monteil by marriage. Kwei Tung is also awaiting trial for allegations of improper practices as a minister in the UNC Government. 

Karen Nunez Tesheira, Minister of Finance in the last Manning PNM regime, was the wife of Russell Tesheira, an executive of CLICO. It is alleged that she was tipped off and withdrew her investments from CL Financial before the collapse. Her junior Minister of Finance, Mariano Browne, was also a former executive of the CL Financial Group. Browne is now an Acting Senator for the Opposition PNM. 

Faris Al Rawi, PNM PRO and Senator in the current PNM Opposition was a director of Clico Investment Bank (CIB). 

The President of HCU Harry Harnarine, it is said, previously worked with and invested heavily in the CL Group. Those in the know in Central Trinidad claimed much of the sugar workers’ severance pay went into the HCU. 

However, like a spirit, the peoples’ money (life savings) vanished without explanation. Duprey, before the collapse of CL Financial, is reported in the media as trying to prevent the collapse of the HCU without success. So that due to interlocking connections, the fall of the principal caused the collapse of the subsidiary. The HCU was in fact a quasi CL Financial subsidiary.

It is alleged that some of the top-level associates and advisors of the Hindu Credit Union are officials of the PP Government including Ministers currently in government. 
In 2001, during the split in the UNC which led to the collapse of the Panday government, Ramesh Maharaj and Trevor Sudama warned about the insolvency of the CL Financial Group of Companies. No regulations were observed. No interventions were made by the financial authorities. 

The answer lies in the web of interconnections and mutually corrupted interests of the politicians and big business. Trinbago has an economy where the State is the largest onshore economic entity. It employs the largest number of workers, awards the largest contracts and produces the highest portion of the GDP. 

Big Business in T&T takes no risks and invests very little. Their survival depends on the State. Hence their intense focus on politicians and their corrupting influence. So which politician of which party will enforce regulations on big business with the web of inter-locking relationships we have discovered? 

There is a culture of corruption which runs through the political blood stream of our politicians. Both the PNM and the PP were drowning our people in rivers of corruption. The PP was the successor to the old NAR and ONR pro big business parties of the 1980’s and 1990”s. They had merely recycled themselves to fool the electors. 

Both the PP and PNM are controlled by big business interests. Whichever party wins, Big Business also wins.