None at all.
New Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Company Ltd chairman Michael Quamina sees no conflict of interest between his TPHCL role and the fact that he represented Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley against last year’s attempts by UNC MP Roodal Moonilal to link Rowley with AV Drilling which was at the centre of Petrotrin’s alleged “fake oil” scandal.
“That (perception of conflict of interest) is baseless,” Quamina told the Sunday Guardian when asked about the matter
“Having regard to the issue that I was dealing with, and my current role as Chairman TPHL, there is absolutely no conflict.”
Quamina had been at Rowley’s side at a media conference in October 2018 when the Prime Minister responded to allegations by Moonilal in Parliament’s Budget debate. Allegations were against Rowley and the owner of A&V Oil and Gas Hanif Baksh.
Moonilal who subsequently withdrew the allegations, had alluded to a Miami bank account. Rowley who responded in Parliament and at the media conference with Quamina, said he had no Miami bank account.
AV Drilling is at the centre of allegations on the so called “fake oil” matter uncovered by the Opposition in 2017. The issue is currently with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Quamina was announced as TPCHL chairman last Thursday, replacing Wilfred Espinet. Outgoing HDC chairman Newman George was also appointed to chair the Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara Refining Company.
An attorney, Quamina has also been legal adviser for PNM’s Camille Robinson-Regis (on bank withdrawal issues), ex Minister Marlene McDonald (when he wrote to the Integrity Commission in 2017 on status of investigations against her), Team Rowley (in 2018 PNM elections) and the Works Ministry (on Curepe Interchange issues).
On perception of cronyism and nepotism arising from representing the PM and other Ministers, Quamina replied: “ I do represent many members of Government, not only in T&T but in several islands throughout the Caribbean.”
“What that does is simply provide them with an opportunity to interact with me on a professional basis. That I suspect has provided the grounds for me being handed many tasks, this one included.”
On concerns about lack of energy sector experience, Quamina added: “Experience in the energy sector is, of course, an asset, but it’s not the only asset.”
“I do have many clients in the energy sector, and as such, I am quite familiar with the industry from that point of view. What I do bring to the table, apart from my legal training, is twenty years of experience serving on and advising both public and private sector boards, which I consider to be an equally important asset.
“I am not an executive chairman. I can and will learn what I need to know about the industry quickly, but my emphasis will be on staffing the organisation with persons with the relevant experience.”
Quamina who meets with TPHCL management tomorrow, said he’ll have to do that before he can respond to queries on how he’ll proceed with arrangements for outgoing Heritage Petroleum Company CEO Mike Wylie.
Wylie has been in the US for the last two months undergoing cancer treatment and had to be away for six more months although he’d planned to continue supervising Heritage from overseas along with a five member leadership team in T&T. Sources said he’d have operated on that basis for a pay reduction. His remuneration in his three year contract was (TT) $240,000 monthly (US $450,000 annually) plus housing, transportation and health.
Last week however Government said the arrangement of supervising Heritage from overseas —which Espinet had sanctioned— wasn’t feasible for such an important company and a permanent replacement for Wylie would be found.
Yesterday Heritage sources said Wylie, who was informed of Goverment’s decision when it was announced last week, sent a note on the development to his team and wished them all the best.
Sources say a former energy sector executive is tipped to be Heritage CEO. Government had said Quamina would work out the details of an exit package for Wylie and Quamina had a lot of industrial relations/court experience.
Quamina who was also asked if Government would have to pay Wylie’s US medical bills, told SG he’d have to consider documentation on Wylie’s issue and/or meet with the management team before he could respond to all the queries.