On viewing the body of his common-law wife at the Forensic Science Centre yesterday, a tearful Mahase Latchman collapsed in disbelief and had to be assisted by relatives.
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Four Petrotrin workers fired for falsifying credentials
Among the 22 Petrotrin employees currently under forensic probe for allegedly falsifying their credentials in order to gain employment with the company, four of them have since been fired. A spokesman for the state-owned enterprise confirmed that the former employees, three of them whose names were revealed, served within the departments of fire, refinery maintenance as well as information technology and communication. The spokesman added that of the four fired employees, two fire officers were relieved of their respective posts after it was discovered they had submitted bogus Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) certificates, with one alleged submission tracing back as far as 22 years ago. While Petrotrin’s fire chief Michael Charles “was not able to confirm” whether people from within his department were found guilty of such a breach, he cited however that “a full CXC certificate” was among the list of prerequisites necessary to become a fire officer in the company. A refinery maintenance operator, who allegedly falsified a City and Guilds’ technician’s diploma in engineering, has also been identified in the lot.
Nearly two months ago (April 21), in a story reported exclusively by the T&T Guardian, a source revealed that 22 of Petrotrin’s employees were being investigated by the Fraud Squad for allegedly submitting false qualifications either to gain employment or enhance their careers within the oil-based company. It was also reported that Petrotrin had written to several “examination bodies” requesting that they “verify the credentials of these employees.” According to the source, one such enquiry into a City and Guilds’ certificate, proved that one employee (alluded to earlier) had completely falsified his academic credentials.
The source, who identified both an uncle and nephew duo in the alleged fraud ring, said Petrotrin was “refusing to accept” the resignation of some of these “guilty” employees who feared the potential loss of company benefits due to termination.
Contacted on Friday, Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager Gillian Friday said she was not aware of any such development and would have to “double-check” that. She added: “I can’t confirm that at this point in time.” The spokesman said the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), one of the company’s major collective bargaining bodies, had intervened on behalf of one of the fire officers facing termination for suspected CXC fraud. President general of the OWTU Ancil Roget told Sunday Guardian that when an employee is “terminated” he loses all his benefits save for “last month’s pay and any contribution he would have made to pension benefits if he was under the plan.”
In an exclusive April interview into the alleged falsification of documents by Petrotrin employees, he has said “the union will not support any falsification of documents or papers in order to secure employment in Petrotrin.” When asked to respond to reports that the OWTU unsuccessfully tried to have the senior employee (with over 20 years service) “depart” the company with all of his benefits, Roget said such was not the case and that he “would part company with anybody who did a fraudulent act.” He said: “That (submitting false credentials) is a criminal act and should be investigated by the police. “It is a serious issue and we will not be involved in that at all. “I do not know that we would support a worker who did a fraudulent act,” Roget added.+
‘Shakedown of HR personnel coming’
Another spokesman hinted that there was “plenty more to come” with regard to forensic probes such as these since moves were taking place to initiate a “new project” that will witness a total shakedown of Petrotrin’s human resources (HR) personnel. “There is a new project coming to dig up everybody’s file (in the company) so that there will be a complete overhaul of HR and every employee will be under investigation until they find some incriminatory evidence,” the source said. He added:“The HR department was not doing what it was supposed to be doing in the first place. “You cannot take it for granted that when an employee submits documents (without official transcripts), they are authentic. “This is terrible and casts a very bad shadow over management.”
While he could not confirm the nature or extent of the 22 falsifications alleged (whether they be partially, completely or otherwise doctored), the source added that HR may have to revisit all of its hiring procedures”, with particular emphasis on “extensive enquiries into the validity of documents being submitted.” The Sunday Guardian has learnt that the 22 alleged perpetrators are predominantly male and of a particular ethnicity.