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Gordon takes front
One month after chairman of the Integrity Commission (IC) Ken Gordon was appointed, he has been warned about the repercussions of allowing his son—Rhett Gordon—to tender for printing work at the commission as the issue of a conflict of interest will arise. This is the latest saga at the commission, even as the fallout between Gordon and deputy chairman Gladys Gafoor continues to deepen. Sunday Guardian learnt that a legal opinion obtained by attorney Marlon Sambucharan cautioned Gordon that a conflict of interest will arise if his son tenders for work at the commission.
A note from Gordon, sent to the commission’s registrar Martin Farrell and obtained by Sunday Guardian stated: “As previously discussed, my son has a printing business of which I am chairman. The past year has been something of a nightmare but the bottom line is we sold CPPP to the Office Authority Ltd and attempted to buy it back. The owners of that company changed their minds and we have been in the hands of lawyers until recently.” It further stated: “We have now purchased Zenith Printery and this is being run by my son Rhett Gordon. The name Zenith has been changed to Caribbean Print Technologies and Rhett continues to do business with its former clients (which includes the Integrity Commission). I thought I should put this on record and send copies to members of the commission.
“Rhett is currently in the process of tendering for printing work and I would welcome your guidance if there is any objection to his doing so.” Farrell, Sunday Guardian understands, via an internal e-mail request on December 2, sought legal advice on the matter. In his legal opinion Sambucharan, who responded immediately, advised the registrar: “An issue of conflict of interest will arise upon this tender for work. Claims of self dealing or serving a family interest aka nepotism may be raised but this is not to say that such a conflict cannot be mitigated against and/or lawfully avoided.” While acknowledging that Gordon voluntarily declared his interest via e-mail to the registrar, Sambucharan further stated that the chairman should disclose prior to or upon any tender for work with the commission by his son’s firm.
He stated: “The chairman will of natural course be further expected and required to recuse himself from (ie abstain from) the decision making process concerning the award of the tender to do the work being tendered out by the IC and should not vote or participate in any way in any other decisions, deliberations or discussions pertaining thereto.” Sambucharan, however, stated that while a conflict of interest has arisen it does not preclude the chairman’s son and his firm from making a tender application for work at the commission and being successful in the award. “So long as the safeguards above are followed to ensure impartiality and fairness in the treatment of the process of the awarding of the tender and the removal of any factor which may raise reasonable doubt as to its transparency,” he stated.
Rhett: I will not jeopardise my father
When contacted yesterday, Rhett confirmed that his company was advised that the tendering of work at the IC would pose a conflict of interest. He explained: “Caribbean Print Technologies does not work for the IC. The company Zenith Printery did work for the IC up to November 1, 2011. When we took over on November 1, it was brought to the attention of our chairman who is also the chairman of the IC and we have since discontinued doing business for the commission. “The chairman of the IC took the matter to the registrar of the IC and it was found that would be a conflict of interest and as such Caribbean Print Technologies took a decision not to engage in works for the IC. It was a decision that was taken by the chairman of the company and the chairman of the IC.
“When it came to my attention I brought it to the chairman’s attention and we have decided not to consider doing work for the IC because it is just not good business because it is a conflict interest. I would not jeopardise my father and neither would I put the company in such a position.” Attempts to contact Gordon were unsuccessful yesterday, as the Sunday Guardian was informed he was out of the country.
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