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Contractor levies on Cepep for $1.9m debt

Saturday, February 17, 2018

High Court Marshals yesterday levied on Cepep Company Ltd headquarters yesterday after the company failed to comply with a court order to pay close to $2 million owed to a contractor.

Accompanied by the contractor, Imtiaz Mohammed, and the police, Marshals moved into the Ste Madeleine premises around 8.30 am where eight vehicles and truckloads of furniture, appliances, computers, water pumps and other assets were confiscated.

In December, Cepep was ordered to pay $1,962,947.36 to Mohammed, owner of Tora Bora Construction & Contractors Ltd, for money owed since March/April 2015.

Mohammed said was awarded a contract under the Health Sector Initiative to undertake remedial works at the St Joseph Health Centre in St Joseph. Mohammed said for the past two and a half years he has been trying to get his money.

Describing the situation as unfortunate, Mohammed said he had no choice as his business was suffering and he cannot meet his financial debts.

“(They) can’t be doing contractors that, we have our companies to run. Owing this money has put a lot of pressure on me, I had to release my workers. I couldn’t continue any kind of construction work because I was depending on this money to be my working capital and we had to close off all our construction work for the last two and half years because of this,” he said.

Mohammed said the assets seized might only cover 30 or 40 per cent of the debt owed.

In response, Rural and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said part payment of $500,000 was made to Mohammed yesterday but Cepep will return to the court in eight days to mount a defence. He said Cepep was the project manager for the project done under the Health Sector Initiative between 2010 and 2015. “When they went through the whole court process and the court ruled against Cepep, the company did not have the funds at that current moment to pay the contractor, so it made part of the payment today, $500,000 but that did not prevent the court marshals from moving forward with the confiscation of assets.”

Responding to a question in Parliament about the levy action, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said the Government met outstanding amounts to be paid on those contracts in the amount of $148 million under that 2010 and 2015 initiative.

However, she said there was lack of proper documentation as documents seemed to have been destroyed. Robinson-Regis said the Cepep board took the decision not to use subvention monies to pay those outstanding contracts as it would have further compromised the financial position of the company.

In a release, former Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal the levy action was another graphic example of the “ineptitude and warped priorities” of the Government. He appealed to the government to engage affected contractors in purposeful discussions with a view to liquidating long-outstanding debt as soon as possible.


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