October 31, 2020

T&TEC rules flouted for ex-AG

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anand-ramlogan-740By Aniks Gumbs CCN Senior Multimedia Investigate Journalist From Trinidad Express newspapers
FORMER attorney general Anand Ramlogan is among selected customers who benefitted from the hefty reduction of major contracting fees at debt-ridden State-owned Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC).
Only last year it was revealed that T&TEC is running a deficit of some $1 billion per annum because of old equipment.
But, according to Ramlogan, the revised sum of $247,253.86 from the original $642,999.84 was what T&TEC officials advised him to pay for the relocation of high tension wires sloping over a vacant parcel of land at Estate Drive, Phillipine.
T&TEC officials told the Express that the high tension wires (66,000 volts) needed to be relocated before construction could commence on the land.
The job, which involves the diversion of the Penal-Phillipine 66 KV circuit, was originally estimated at $642,999.84.
And attempts by the Express to get answers from Ramlogan as to how the fee was revised have not been forthcoming.
Ramlogan has also refused to say why T&TEC, in a letter dated December 11, 2014, wrote to Azad Mohammed and not him advising of the revised sum of $247,253.86.
The December 11 letter lists Mohammed’s address as #19 Lazzari Trace, Block Two, Palmiste.
Express investigations revealed that the Lazzari Trace address matches that of a townhouse situated next to the one Ramlogan occupies at Palm Villas, Palmiste while his nearby private residence undergoes renovation.
Mohammed has also not responded to telephone calls and text messages sent to him by the Express seeking clarification on his involveexs13ment in the T&TEC transaction.
Investigations revealed that the $247,253.86 payment was made for Ramlogan on January 1, 2015, exactly one month before he was fired in light of witness-tampering allegations involving Police Complaints Authority director David West.
Questions as to how Freedom Law Chambers came in possession of the December 11 letter and ended up faxing it to T&TEC the same day the $247,253.86 payment for the job was made were also not answered by Ramlogan.
Ramlogan, who once headed Freedom Law Chambers, is on record as saying that he handed the firm to his legal partner Cindy Bhagwandeen when he was appointed AG in 2010.
So why was Freedom Law Chambers involved in a transaction with Ramlogan while he was AG?

Ramlogan would not say
Asked by the Express on February 27 to explain the involvement of Mohammed and Freedom Law Chambers in the T&TEC transaction, Ramlogan via a text message replied: “These questions should be addressed to T&TEC which is in possession of the relevant facts including the payments I was advised to make relative to this issue.”
Investigations revealed that the major contracting fees were initially calculated based on the scope of the job, which includes the installation of eight 21-metre poles, two 12-metre poles and the transferring of conductors.
The job also includes the removal of three 17-metre poles and fittings.
According to the manager transmission maintenance Chrisalston Belle, development of infrastructure in the area was the reason for the revised fee.
In the December 11 letter, Belle wrote: “The civil infrastructure within the area was developed after our initial survey, thus creating additional options for installation of our infrastructure. As a result the Commission revised its design and the new costs for the relocation is $247,253.86 plus Value Added Tax. This cost is valid for three months from the date of this letter and must be paid before the job is scheduled.”

Ramsook misleads
However, T&TEC general manager Kelvin Ramsook told the Express that the revised fee was based on an e-mail directive he gave on September 22, 2011.
At the time Ramsook issued the e-mail regarding the revised fees for major contracting jobs he had no authority to do so.
In fact, the general manger at the time was Glenford Cyrille who had the sole authority to revise the T&TEC general instruction regarding fees for major contracting jobs.
Investigations revealed that at the time of the September 22 e-mail , Ramsook held the substantive post of assistant general manager distribution. Ramsook later replaced Cyrille. Ramsook sent a copy of a September 22, 2011 e-mail to the Express in what he claimed was a directive for the revised fees.
Investigations revealed that the e-mail was not sent to Cyrille, who held the post of general manager from May 1, 2011 to November 18, 2011.
The e-mail read: “Please be reminded that all requests for pole relocation or property that belongs to T&TEC, the actual cost to do the job must be charged to the customer with no add on 50 per cent. The 50 per cent add on is when we do work installation that do not belong to the Commission i.e. when we work as a contractor to the company making request for the service.
“Example: Ministry of Works relocation of poles jobs should have no mark up 50 per cent increase as well as labour.”
The September 22 e-mail was sent to the following area managers: Zainool Mohammed, Felix Alleyne, Rene Austin, Anthony McIntosh and Alvin Ramsaran. Further investigations, however, revealed that Ramsook’s directive was issued to the heads of distribution and not to the transmission department at T&TEC that is responsible for the job at Estate Drive, Phillipine. Pole relocation forms a subset of major contracting at T&TEC and can either be done by the distribution or transmission departments.
However, the distribution department deals with pole relocation that carries voltages less than 33,000 volts, while the transmission department handles voltages above that.
Further probing revealed that at the time of Ramsook’s directive the five area managers were assigned to the following district distribution departments:
Mohammed (Central)
Alleyne (Eastern)
Austin (Southern)
McIntosh (Tobago)
Ramsaran (Northern)

Neither Ramsook nor any of the five area managers had the authority to revise the major contracting fees.
The job at Estate Drive, Phillipine falls under the transmission department that has no new general instruction to revise fees for major contracting jobs.
Official documents obtained by the Express also revealed that three weeks ago, copies of the files containing the revised fees given to several companies were removed from the transmission department.
Perusal of the documents by the Express, however, showed that the directive to revise the fees listed at the bottom of each job scope was inked off with a black marker.

Fees flouted based on 2011 e-mail
Asked why was the directive inked off from the various job scopes if the September 22 e-mail was legitimate, Ramsook said: “The directive was given since 2011.”
Explaining that T&TEC is involved in two types of major contracting, Ramsook said: “There are jobs where T&TEC works as a private contractor and charges the 50 per cent. If a normal pole relocation has to be done where T&TEC may have had poles on the premises of someone and for some reason the poles need to be relocated a request needs to made. When the request is made T&TEC charges the actual cost and an administrative cost.”
Told that the e-mail is in contrast to the general instruction of T&TEC for major contracting jobs, Ramsook said: “We have been reviewing our general instruction which is done by the general manager, so from time to time this was one that required clarification.”
Asked to explain why Mohammed was involved in Ramlogan’s transaction at T&TEC, Ramsook said: “You may probably have contractors acting on behalf of clients and they make representation for the relocation of the poles.
“We ask for ownership documents for connection purposes. A contractor may make a request on behalf of a client. First of all, I am not confirming what you’re saying.
“I have correspondence from Mr Azad Mohammed. I recall that situation so I can only confirm for Azad Mohammed.”
As to whether T&TEC was only in possession of documentation from Mohammed and not Ramlogan, Ramsook said: “Hold on, from the information I have it is Azad Mohammed who made the request for the relocation of the said job. There may be other documentation, but I have to check.”
Told that T&TEC received payment for the Estate Drive, Phillipine job on January, 14, 2015, Ramsook said: “Well, you have it before you, Ma’am, so let us move on.”
Asked if T&TEC contacted Ramlogan, he said. “Remember you are in the media. I gave you the information about Mr Azad Mohammed. I would have really like to leave it there.”

What T&TEC general instruction states
According to the T&TEC general instruction (NO: FA03/1208), estimates for major contracting jobs are to be billed as followed:
*Labour utilising the man hour rate plus 50 per cent
*Materials from stock at stock list price plus 50 per cent
*Outside purchases at the cost plus10 per cent
*Transport costs utilising the mileage rate

About the investigation
list of some of the jobs that benefitted from Ramsook’s directive:
*Removal of down guys on the CNC-Savonetta 66KV circuit;
*Diversion of the Lady Hailes-Harmony Hall and the Lady Hailes-Gulf View 66 KV circuits for the Water and Sewerage Authority to construct a sewerage treatment plant;
* De-energise, isolate and earth the North Oropouche-Wallerfield 66KV circuit on multiple days for the construction of a bridge at Valencia by the National Infrastructure Development Company;
* Diversion of the Penal-Phillipine 66KV circuit; and
*Diversion of the Bamboo-Macoya/ Trincity 66 KV

Related story:
Ramlogan defends payment made during his tenure as Trinidad and Tobago AG
From Caribbean360
Former Trinidad & Tobago Attorney General Anand Ramlogan (File photo)
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday March 25, 2015, CMC – Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan has dismissed calls for a police and forensic probe into the TT$353 million (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) paid out by his office over a four year period, saying the call by two of his predecessors were nothing more than a strategy to divert attention from political issues in the country.
Senior Counsels Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and John Jeremie told a news conference late Tuesday that they took no pleasure in demanding that the police investigate the affair after media reports over the last weekend showed that in one instance, a company, Tiger capital Limited, with no legal expertise among its directors, had received TT$1.7 million last year for advice relating to mutual legal assistance by the United States.
Figures released by the government in Parliament last month showed that at least 10 lawyers benefitted from State briefs totaling TT$95.5 million for the period June 2010 to October 31, 2014.
But Ramlogan told the Trinidad Express newspaper Wednesday that the call for the probe was nothing more than an attempt to divert the public from the vote of no confidence against Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley that will be debated in Parliament later on Wednesday.
The motion, unprecedented in the Commonwealth, is being tabled by the Leader of Government Business, Dr. Roodal Moonilal. Political observers say the motion is part of the campaign ahead of the general elections expected no later than September this year.
Ramlogan, who was removed from the Cabinet by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar after the police indicated that they had launched an investigation into the former attorney general on charges of seeking to pervert the course of justice, said that the opposition People’s National Move­ment (PNM) had “bluntly refused to answer questions about legal fees in Parliament.
“It said such information was personal and private. I have repeatedly disclosed all legal fees paid in the interest of transparency and accountability as I am confident it can withstand public scrutiny,” Ramlogan said.
He said when he became attorney general he had inherited “a large amount of unpaid legal bills, the OPV (offshore patrol vessel) arbitration and the CLICO investigation”.
He said the probes were successful resulting in the “unpre­cedented filing of four major claims” against the former members of the boards of four state companies.
“The attack against external coun­­sel retained by the State during my tenure is unjustified and without merit. The State has won over 95 per cent of the matters in which these lawyers were retained. This is a marked improvement.”
“Many statements…made during the press conference are completely false and totally baseless. I have never paid any lawyer the sum of TT$408,000 for the drafting of a pre-action letter. That is absurd and ridiculous and I reject it,” Ramlogan said, adding “ I have always said I welcome any investigation by anyone, anytime, anywhere. My position remains the same”.
Jeremie and Maharaj said that they were calling on the police to conduct the investigation “one that is adequately supported by forensic expertise into this matter to be conducted immediately.
For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbean360.com/news/ramlogan-defends-payment-made-during-his-tenure-as-trinidad-and-tobago-ag#ixzz3VUsg1T47

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