(Trinidad Express) Former acting general manager of Airports Operations at the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) Dayanand Birju’s certificate from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in the United States is a fake, the university confirmed yesterday.
The certificate, which stated he was awarded a Bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1988, was part of his curriculum vitae which led to him obtaining a managerial position at the AATT.The position saw Birju receiving $40,000-plus a month in salary and perks.Speaking with the Express yesterday morning, David Cesario, registrar of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, said after inspecting the certificate, “I have reviewed it and it is not authentic.”Cesario said, four days ago, a request was made by the AATT as to whether the “certificate” was authentic. A reply has since been sent to the AATT.
Birju had said he had a BSc in computer science which was awarded on May 28, 1988 from the university. Cesario confirmed that Birju did attend the university “from fall 1983 through fall 1987”, but did not graduate.Cesario, when asked what action, if any, the university could take with regard to the certificate, said: “At minimum, if it is from a student, we would turn the case over to Student Affairs as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.”The document tendered by Birju has discrepancies.For instance, it lists “Peter McFarlene” as the university president.But Registry officials at the university told the Express yesterday they knew no one by that name who served as president of the university.“Ma’am, if you go to our website, you will see all our past presidents. From 1978 to 1990, I can tell you that Mr David C Knapp was the president of the University of Massachusetts,” the official said.Did Peter McFarlene at any time serve as the president?“Ma’am, the information recorded shows that no Mr McFarlene served as president at any time at this university,” the official said.The official was further asked if “Thomas Alan Caretherson” and “Veronica Miles” had served at the institution in the capacity of chancellor, Boston Campus, and chief, board of trustees, respectively, at any time, as stated on the certificate.The official said no.
Birju tendered his resignation to chairman of the AATT Trevor Benjamin last Tuesday.Sources say the resignation was with immediate effect. Shortly after assuming the chairmanship of the AATT in September, Benjamin requested Birju’s CV, sources said. Birju said that his CV would be made available last week to Benjamin, but this did not happen and the Express was informed by sources that Birju did not produce the university transcript from the institution.Efforts to contact Birju again yesterday were unsuccessful as calls to his cellphone and home phone went unanswered. Messages left were not returned.When he was offered the position of deputy general manager, Airports Operations on August 10, 2010, Birju’s basic monthly salary was $24,000. This figure did not include allowances.A copy of his contract obtained by the Express showed perks such as travelling, entertainment, telephone and housing allowances. The allowances were $3,000, $500, $350 and $1,500, respectively, per month.Birju also qualified for a motor vehicle loan up to $140,000 to be repaid within three years. The offer contract was signed by then AATT general manager (ag) Louis Frederick.
Contacted on Monday, Frederick said he was presented with an “original” certificate. He said the certificate highlighted in the Express was the same one that was presented.Asked if checks were made to determine the authenticity of the document, Frederick said: “No, because the original was submitted and we made a copy.”Did you or the AATT check the copy with the university? the Express asked.“No, what I remember, the AATT never did any checks like that. If you bring in the original certificates, they are copied and given back to you.“Looking back at it, I have never had cause to do that (call a university) and I don’t think the (AATT) did that with anybody,” Frederick said.Sources say the document was also submitted to Caribbean Airlines Ltd.
Efforts to contact Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, as well as AATT chairman Benjamin, have been unsuccessful.The Express learnt that, following his resignation, Birju informed the AATT that he had 45 days’ vacation leave and requested that he be paid for them. Management at the AATT gave the undertaking that his claim will be looked at.On January 16, 2012, the AATT board appointed Birju to act as general manager for six months. His compensation package included a monthly salary of $32,000, transport facilities — $3,000, entertainment allowance — $1,500 and housing allowance — $3,000.