Millions of dollars in fixtures and fittings have been pillaged from the controversial 1,000-home, turnkey Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) project and its board is under pressure to launch an investigation into what is believed to have been an inside job.
Stabroek Business has seen a copy of an internal memorandum sent to Board Chairman Hamilton Green in which a recommendation was made that a police investigation be launched into the reported theft of more than $12 million in windows, doors, toilets and other fixtures from the homes, while a high-profile local security service was employed to ensure the protection of the site.
The theft from the buildings apart, the memorandum asserts that members of the same security service are under suspicion of being in league with CHPA employees in the looting of materials from the main storage bond associated with the project.
Several months ago, the CHPA had announced that it was suspending the project on the grounds of homeowner dissatisfaction with the project as executed. The contractors, who had been assigned to the project, were accused of a lack of accountability and relieved of their responsibility.
That, however, was not the end of the controversy. The security service provider was also accused of defrauding the CHPA by posting fewer guards than agreed at the 1000-home site, which it has been contracted to secure.
This newspaper has been informed that Green has also been formally notified this discrepancy, believed to be a fraudulent scam through which the firm is able to make pay claims considerably in excess of the service it provides.
Green has reportedly been notified of a recent visit to the site by a CHPA official during which there were no guards at two out of three locations that ought to have had been manned by guards. The report to Green stated that the CHPA official had found the same posts abandoned on around ten occasions. The official said that on one occasion an individual claiming to be a security guard from the named service was sleeping in the security hut. The report to Green indicated that the young man was clad in a pair of jeans, but wore no shirt and no shoes. While he claimed to be an employee of the company he had no uniform or badge to confirm this.
Reports of complicity between privately-run security services and strategically placed government employees in ramping up both the number of guards and the number of hours worked as a basis for making pay claims have long been commonplace. State-employed checkers have invariably been fingered, along with security services, in scams that allow for the falsification of pay claims and kickbacks to the conspiring parties. Queries in relation to such scams have frequently arisen at privately-secured state sites across the country and the scams have routinely cost the state millions of dollars annually.
The security service in this instance is reportedly being paid $2.1 million monthly by the CHPA and it has been recommended that 50 per cent of this amount be withheld pending the outcome of a thorough investigation into the charges.
The CHPA’s difficulties with privately-run guard services reportedly run deeper. Site checks by CHPA officials have also reportedly found guards smoking marijuana.