Questions still hang over the sale of Executive Bodyguard Services Ltd (EBSL) to a PP financier for US$14 million (TT$88 million).Senior national security officials were the first to raise concerns over the sale of the lucrative business owned by Samuel Stafford, to the financier who is a contractor based in central Trinidad. The contractor contributed significantly to the PP Government during the 2010 election and also spent millions on the Tobago Organisation of the People's (TOP) election campaign.
The questions still to be answered are: Why is Stafford's name still listed as the owner of EBSL despite it being sold to the PP contractor? Why did Stafford sell a very lucrative business to the PP financier at this time?Stafford is currently out of the country, sources said, launching an international brand of security systems with an estimated annual worth of over US$75 million.
Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.Following EBSL's sale to the PP financier, sources said it had received millions of dollars in contracts, more so government contracts.Several lucrative contracts include the Estate Management Business Development Company (EMBD), Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) and the National Gas Company of T&T (NGC). These contracts, sources said, were worth millions.
Sources added that other security contracts within various ministries are expected to be awarded to the financier.Sources said in the past, EBSL tendered for government contracts but had always lost out to Allied Security, Amalgamated and Innovative Security.The latest contract to EBSL was awarded on September 7, 2012 by the Central Tenders Committee, for provision of security services for the Office of the Attorney General.
The official cost of the contract is $8,413,344.00 plus $1,262,001.60 value added tax. The contract is for two years.But despite this figure being the agreed amount, sources said this could increase anytime during the two-year period due to ad hoc expenses.Apart from the AG's office, EBSL will also provide services to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
In 2007, Innovative Security was retained to provide security for the offices of the AG and DPP.A three-year contract was initially granted.At the end of the three years, the firm's contract was renewed for an additional two years but was subsequently retained on a month-to-month basis.The office of the AG approved the month-to-month contract.The services of Innovative Security were subsequently not renewed.
Concerns over the acquisition
The Point Lisas compound which houses EBSL is reportedly one of the most sophisticated in this country. It was designed by the former owner.According to sources, the building can house 300 personnel for training, has an indoor shooting range, an impenetrable vault, separate departments for over 100 investigators, a two-way bulletproof room for interrogation and interviews, officers' mess halls, classrooms, forensic labs and storage rooms for over 15 armoured vehicles.
Equipment, sources said, was far more advanced than what the T&T Police Service and Army possessed.The equipment ranges from GPS to one of the most sophisticated private intelligence gathering units this country has ever seen.A senior official who did not wish to be identified said had it been known the financier had bought EBSL then "there may have been objections" to the awarding of the two-year contract.
Questioning the reason(s) why the company was not in the financier's name, given the fact that "a lot of money was spent to secure the business," the official did not want to comment. The official also did not comment on whether security at the office of the DPP has been compromised.When contacted last week, AG Anand Ramlogan denied knowledge that EBSL was owned by a PP financier, but was quick to point out that he was sure the Central Tenders Board did not award the contract based on party affiliations.
Calls to the cell phones of EBSL's director and chief executive officer Darrin Carmichael and executive director Nigel Bissoon were unsuccessful. Several messages were not returned.When Sunday Guardian eventually spoke with Carmichael and questioned him about the awarding of contracts to EBSL, the line was disconnected. Follow-up calls to Carmichael went unanswered.The Sunday Guardian was unable to reach the PP financier.
Govt official blanked by US
The Sunday Guardian also understands that it was only six months ago that a senior government official travelled to the United States to attend a seminar where he interacted with US security personnel.Sources said the official expressed an interest in purchasing several high-level surveillance equipment, but was blanked by the US authorities.The US indicated to the official that such equipment was bought from one government to the other and not from government to individual.