T&T Army Major denies knowledge of Prado purchase

(Trinidad Express) Army Major Collin Millington, amid questions regarding his involvement in the purchase of a $698,000 Toyota Prado SUV from Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TTTL), Saturday, denied knowledge of the transaction.

Millington, the Director of the Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC), a sub-agency of the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, (Impacs), was involved in a purchase of the duty-free SUV, registration PCS 442, a report by Independent auditing firm Ernst and Young, which was contracted to conduct a diagnostic audit at Impacs, revealed.

That report also confirmed allegations of impropriety against Lynne Anne Williams, who was last month, terminated as the agency’s executive director.

On July 24, the Sunday Express highlighted an exclusive story regarding that transaction, which was unearthed during our investigations into the allegations of misconduct, corruption and misappropriation of funds at Impacs.

According to the proforma invoice, the model price for the vehicle, which was listed at $698,000, was being sold at $354,875. That figure would have increased to $355,000 after charges of $150 for fuel; $350 for licence plates; Insurance cover note $50; and MGW Tare $75 had been included, the invoice stated.

Locals employed at the agency are not entitled to duty-free concessions according to the Headquarters Agreement.

In their report, the auditors said that Millington had several questions to answer.

But, contacted on his cellphone yesterday for comment regarding the purchase of the SUV, Millington said he wasn’t aware of such and directed our call to Francis Forbes.

“I don’t know anything about which you speak and I’m not at liberty to give any interviews so the best person you should speak with is the Interim Executive Director, Francis Forbes,” Millington said.

After the Sunday Express story, Customs and Excise Division issued a Notice of Seizure of Goods for the vehicle citing breach of Section 213(a) of the Customs Act Chapter: 78:01 as amended by Act #17 of 2007.

Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Anthony Chandler, during a brief telephone interview with the Express on Friday, confirmed the seizure of the vehicle and that an investigation surrounding its purchase is ongoing.

The audit report said: “Two downpayments totaling $100,000.00 were made via manager’s cheques (in Millington’s name) and are evidenced by the copies of receipts dated 2 March 2011 for TT$36,000 and 17 March 2011 for TT$64,000 both in the name of Caricom Impacs.”

“The Executive Director, Ms Lynne Anne Williams has represented that she did not authorise anyone within Caricom Impacs to order and purchase a duty-free vehicle from TTTL and furthermore, first became aware that a vehicle was ordered when the allegation appeared in the 24 July 2011 article in the Express newspaper,” the audit report said.

The report said when Millington was interviewed on September 21, he confirmed he contacted Toyota on the purchase of the SUV and he was pursuing the acquisition on behalf of Impacs and he was acting in accordance with the precedent set by the agency where employees make payments for items and are subsequently reimbursed.

” The Financial Comptroller (David Phillips) has represented there was no communication to the Finance Department by Major Millington regarding any payment made to TTTL which would require subsequent reimbursement,” the report said.

Two questions that remain to be answered, the auditors said, are; “How did Mr Millington come to represent Caricom Impacs when presenting the downpayment to TTTL and if there was no knowledge of Caricom Impacs paying for a vehicle, how could the licensing division be approached for registration of the vehicle in the name of Caricom Impacs?”

According to the audit report, official and specific explanations should be sought by Consle from Millington regarding the following:

u What authority did Major Collin Millington utilise to effect the order of a Toyota Prado vehicle from TTTL in the name of Caricom Impacs?

u Who authorised the downpayments for the Toyota Prado?

u Why were the downpayment amounts made via Manager’s Cheques, issued by his (Millington) order and made payable to Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Limited for which receipts were issued in the name of Caricom Impacs?

u The process by which the Financial Controller and the Executive Director of Caricom Impacs was made aware of the intent to purchase and the down-payment amounts made to TTTL on behalf of Caricom Impacs.

 

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