Two corruption probes into operations at the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation (CTTRC) intensified yesterday when officers from the Central Division police and Fraud Squad arrested a Fyzabad contractor and several corporation employees.
According to police reports, around 10 am, Central Division CID, led by ASP Michael Sooker, Sgt Jitindra Tooleram and Sgt Andy Mohammed, went to the office of California/Point Lisas councillor Alif Mohammed and arrested the 78-year-old contractor for bribery.
Hours later, Fraud Squad officers entered the CTTRC's Railway Road office and arrested three employees from the technical department, following a probe into a contract for the installation of outdoor exercise equipment in San Pablo and Todd's Road.
Mohammed told the T&T Guardian that the contractor was awarded a contract to build a box drain along Pierre Street, California, but the work was poorly done. He said he raised his concern with the council and recommended that the contractor should not be paid until the work was satisfactorily done. He said a technical officer who was sent to evaluate the work concurred that the work was not done properly.
While at the site on Thursday, he said, the contractor approached him and offered him the bribe. However, Mohammed instead recorded the conversation on his mobile phone and handed this over to the police.
"Most brazen, he came to me and said 'let me talk to you young boy.' He said, 'Let me give you some hundreds and we will call it off." I said 'excuse me' and then he said he will give me some thousands to call it off.
"I asked him if he was offering me a bribe. I told him to hold on and I put my phone to tape and, without him realising that, the conversation started again. He said if not $1,000, he would give me $2,000," Mohammed said.
He said he told the contractor that it would take approximately $5,000 to correct the problems on the drains, but was again offered the money and asked not to make any objections.
Contacted yesterday, CTTRC chairman Henry Awong said he did not have any information on the contractor's arrest, as he had only heard of it through the grapevine.
In the second incident, police went to the CTTRC's office and held employees who were being investigated for corruption. Awong said while three employees were arrested, he was unclear of the allegations against them. His own investigations revealed it may be related to the installation of outdoor exercise equipment at the San Pablo Recreation Ground and the Todd's Road Activity Centre, which was delayed.
He said a contract valued at $147,500 was awarded to a contractor during the 2014/15 fiscal year, but cheques and other documents related to this were seized by Fraud Squad officers at the CTTRC last October.