Government has secured the services of British QC Alan Newman to advise whether there was fraud in the controversial billion-dollar Broadgate Place project in Port-of-Spain.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan revealed that during a news conference at his Cabildo Chambers Office, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Broadgate Place, a proposed 26-storey building on South Quay, opposite City Gate, is being executed by the Broadgate Place Property Company Ltd, a subsidiary of the Transcorp Development Company. The construction was expected to begin earlier this year with a projected two-year completion date. Ramlogan said if the project was determined to be fraudulent "we will be taking action against those responsible." The AG called on former Public Administration Minister Kennedy Swaratsingh and former Prime Minister Patrick Manning "to explain to the population how such transaction could have been imposed on the people of this country. Ramlogan said a bank was now seeking to recover funds from the Government from the planned $1 billion project.
He said Transcorp Credit Union was the owner of the parcel of land but was "indebted to the Unit Trust Corporation of T&T (UTC) to the tune of US$20 million." He added that the state had "approached Transcorp to purchase this land directly (but) all of a sudden, for reasons unknown to myself, Transcorp entered into an agreement with the Government of T&T whereby a new company, Broadgate, was formed."
He listed the following events involving Broadgate:
�2 Approaching First Caribbean International Bank and taking a US$20 million loan;
�2 paying off the loan that Transcorp was owing Unit Trust Corporation; and,
�2 entering into an agreement whereby the Government guaranteed the repayment of the US$20 million loan and the cost of constructing a multi-storey building on the land owned by Broadgate – guaranteeing the cost of the construction of the building.
He said the Government was supposed to rent part of the building but the cost of the structure was never "precisely quantified" in the agreement.
The AG added that the rental "was tied to the loan and debt-servicing obligations of Broadgate. He said that meant that effectively "we were guaranteeing a loan to a private developer and all he had was the land which was financially-burdened." Ramlogan stressed: "If that is not a scandal, then I don't know what is, quite frankly."