A qualified apology by Minister of State in the Ministry of the People, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, over comments she made about People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley has failed to q
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Anil to take fresh Life Sport evidence to DPP, CoP, IC
Former sport minister Anil Roberts has described the controversial Life Sport audit as “flawed, untoward and doctored,” and says he will be taking fresh evidence from the programme to the Director of Public Prosecutions, acting Police Commissioner, Finance Minister and the Integrity Commission.
Roberts said the 53-page report, which was tabled in Parliament on July 25 by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, was “clearly designed to create public mischief.”
Roberts also promised to “seek legal advice on the report,” in a bid to get redress on the matter.
On Thursday, shortly after resigning as sport minister, Roberts said the “Overview of Conclusions” on Page 4 of the report stated that “given the widespread nature of the breaches, it is difficult to understand how they went unnoticed by the Ministry of Sport.
“Consideration has to be given to whether there was complicity by officers of the ministry. For example, the entire payment of $34 million to EBeam Interact Ltd was made not withstanding that external attorneys advised that there may have been grounds to contest and resist the final payment.”
On December 6, 2012, SporTT engaged EBeam to provide numeracy, literacy and interactive technology for the Life Sport programme at a cost of $34 million.
However, a legal battle ensued between SporTT and EBeam over the contract.
Roberts produced a letter from JD Sellier and Company, dated February 17, 2014, written by attorney Anja Dass, which stated that SporTT was obligated under the contract to issue the remaining $17 million to EBeam.
The letter was copied to JD Sellier’s attorney Dennis Gurley and SporTT’s head legal, attorney Lisa Solomon.
“However, given the lack of co-operation on the part of EBeam to meet and negotiate any new terms/conditions/amended contract until said payment is made to him we advised that SporTT was left with no other option but to pay the contracted balance, given SporTT’s position under the contract,” Dass advised.
“This was the final external legal advice upon which the SporTT board and its CEO acted upon,” Roberts said.
Roberts: Vital information conveniently left out in report
The conclusion by the audit committee that Ministry of Sport officials were complicit in making this payment despite external legal advice to the contrary is wrong on many levels, Robert said.
“Firstly, it was the Sport Company that was responsible for managing and making payment on the EBeam contract and not Ministry of Sport officials. Secondly, and more importantly, both internal and external legal advice stated that the Sport Company was legally obligated to pay and had no other option but to pay.”
Roberts also drew reference to a memorandum dated November 11, 2013, sent to CEO of SporTT from Solomon, which stated that “based on the instructions which have been provided, there are no facts which can give rise to a legal termination of this contract. As discussed above, there is no evidence of a material breach of contract by EBeam.”
Roberts said Solomon advised that “the contract between SporTT and EBeam, having been duly executed is a binding legal document,” and that “failure by SporTT to pay EBeam the $17 million, representing 50 per cent of the fee contractually due and owing will, in the circumstances, be a breach of contract and may result in legal action by EBeam to recover the contract price and any other reasonable consequential losses.”
Solomon also recommended that the most feasible option available to SporTT would be to pay to EBeam the monies claimed by their invoice in accordance with the obligations set out in the contract, Roberts said.
However, he said this piece of vital information was conveniently left out of the report.
“Someone intentionally doctored and edited Solomon’s advice before attaching to the report. My question is, who did that and why?”
Roberts said what was equally disturbing, the committee did not return to the Ministry of Sport, Life Sport and SporTT to verify and check the information they had obtained, which is a normal procedure in completing an audit.
“This is not the only thing I found missing. That is fraud. Documents have been doctored to present a false conclusion...a conclusion of complicity, corruption and criminal activity. This is very serious and dangerous.
“So the audit report attaches a legal memorandum with the most important pages missing, then comes to a false conclusion based on the doctored advice. This is too coincidental.”
Finance Minister Larry Howai, whose ministry undertook the audit, did not respond to questions that were e-mailed to him on Friday.
Speaker to get MP’s resignation letter tomorrow
Former sport minister Anil Roberts will submit his letter of resignation as D’Abadie/O’Meara MP to Speaker Wade Mark at 9 am tomorrow.
Roberts in a brief telephone interview yesterday said he would not deliver his resignation letter personally to Mark.
Instead, the letter will be sent from his former executive secretary at the Ministry of Sport to Mark’s personal secretary at his office.
“On Monday, at 9 am, the Speaker will receive my letter of resignation as MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara,” Roberts said.
For Roberts’ resignation to be effective, the Speaker has to receive communication from the MP, which would be read to the House.
Up to Thursday, communications officer of the Parliament Jason Elcock said Roberts’ letter of resignation had not yet been submitted to Mark.
Last Thursday, Roberts was forced to resign from the People’s Partnership Government.
He attributed his resignation to mounting pressures from the public, the Opposition, and even his own Cabinet colleagues.
Roberts’ resignation came six days after the Life Sport audit was laid in the House of Representatives by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Persad-Bissessar said there was enough evidence in the audit to warrant a probe by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the acting Commissioner of Police, Integrity Commission and head of the Public Service.