T&T ruling party suspends prominent businessman over attempted tender manipulation

(Trinidad Guardian) Prominent south businessman Harry Ragoonanan says he plans to challenge to his suspension from the People’s National Movement (PNM). He is insisting that the ruling party removed the wrong man and is linking the action against him to information he dug up related to the collapse of the seabridge service.

On Saturday, the PNM suspended Ragoonanan, a long standing member of the party, for allegedly attempting to manipulate a tendering process at the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) last year. The party said the matter is being investigated by the police.

However, Ragoonanan claims he never tendered at the PTSC and intends to challenge the suspension through his attorneys. He claims action is being taken against him for exposing questionable deals in the acquisition of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 ferries.

Ragoonanan said when he heard that the Port Authority was having difficulty acquiring two vessels for the inter-island ferry service he approached Works Minister Rohan Sinanan, who he described as “friend and family”, and offered to help.

“I called up my people. They send me about five or six boats. I chose the best one called Tera Jet which could have sailed to Tobago in 150 minutes,” he said

When information on the vessel was passed on to the port, Ragoonanan claimed, Port Authority officials “immediately fell in love with the boat stating this is the boat they going with, so I began to negotiate with the owners to bring the boat here and to work out a price.”

However, while they were getting an inspection done on the vessel, the owner received information from the Port Authority that the vessel was no longer being considered.

Ragoonanan further claimed that a top Government official called the Port Authority to say he is a scamp.

“Nobody calls me a scamp. I went to town looking at this whole deal with the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 and I unearthed all the corruption involved in it. I am very proud of that. That is what they want to kill me for. They were looking for something to pin on me because they know I was behind the boat issue and I am not stopping,” he said.

Ragoonanan said as far as he is aware he is not the subject of a police investigation.

“So far my attorneys called (the police) and there is no investigation,” he said.

Asked if he would remain committed to the party, Ragonanan said he would defend his unblemished name at all costs and maintained that he has not brought the party into disrepute.

“They cannot suspend me. This has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I expected this. But I am going to fight it,” he said.

Approached for comment, Sinanan said the PTSC issue with Ragoonanan dated back to “before I became a minister.”

“ So let Harry Ragoonanan sort out his problems. Please leave me out of it,” he said.


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