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Sturge wants AG probed over HDC loan to Garcia

Friday, January 15, 2016
Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge

Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge wants the Integrity Commission to investigate the behaviour of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi for his alleged involvement in what Sturge deems a questionable loan agreement between HDC and Noel Garcia.

Sturge claims Garcia, who was managing director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and is currently the chairman of Udecott, was granted a loan from the HDC. 

At a news conference yesterday Sturge produced documents which he claimed were questionable transactions.

The transaction in 2007 involves a loan request from Garcia to cover medical expenses for his son, Christian. The amount of the loan, $166,000, was approved by the HDC. However, Sturge claimed Al-Rawi reviewed and recommended the loan and then sat at a subsequent meeting to approve it. 

“Al-Rawi, in the fourth board meeting undertook to look at the documents, look at the legislations and advise the board on whether it should proceed and how it should proceed to grant this loan to offset medical expenses for Mr Garica. 

“Having undertaken that task, Mr Al-Rawi was duty bound to excuse himself from the sixth meeting, which is the meeting held where he advised the board to accept his own advice, his own advice in which he sat in a different capacity on the sub-committee of the board on legal matters,” Sturge said.

A quote from the internal audit done on the matter reads: “There are no documents to show a disbursement of TT$166,000 to Noel Garcia. There are, however, documents in the means of two letters instructing Republic Bank to wire transfer £30,000 and £5,000 respectively to Christian Garcia.”

Sturge pointed to an excerpt of an audit document of the HDC, saying it was troubling the amount of money transferred to Christian Garcia, the son of Noel Garcia, was more than the money approved by the loan. The transfer of the account is more than TT$400,000. 

Responding to Sturge’s allegations, Al-Rawi said that matter was not a new issue and it has been dealt with on a number of occasions. 

“This specific matter concerning Noel Garcia is not a new matter to Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed I recall with utmost clarity that on September 17, 2010, Roodal Moonilal, as the minister then, in Parliament in the Appropriations Bill, raised this issue and I in fact dealt with the Moonilal allegations on September 20,2010 in the Parliament,” he added.