$22.5M fraud at SJLRC

(Trinidad & Tobago Guardian): An alleged $22.5 million salary racket at the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation has resulted in the arrest of 11 people.

The arrests, which were made on Thursday, are said to be a major breakthrough by the T&T Police Service’s Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) in their investigations into the matter, which began earlier this year.

The detained people were up to press time said to be assisting police in further investigations into the alleged fraudulent payment of $22.5 million in salaries at the corporation between 2011 and 2017.

According to a release from the TTPS yesterday, the arrests were made during anti-crime exercises in the Petit Valley, Valsayn and St Augustine districts between 3.30 am and noon on Thursday.

The exercises were spearheaded by Snr Supt (Ag) William Nurse, of the ACIB and included officers of the Professional Standards Bureau, Complaints Division, Inter-agency Task Force and the Northern Division Task Force.

The 11 people are said to be between the ages 25 to 40 years. Police said charges are imminent.In another release yesterday, Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government said the issue was detected earlier this year by the SJLRC’s former CEO Kofi Chapman.It said Chapman recognised discrepancies in the Accounting Unit and it was immediately reported to the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

It added that the corporation cooperated fully with the investigation and police interviewed relevant personnel in the corporation before they made their arrests. The T&T Guardian understands that SJLRC chairman Anthony Roberts and the current CEO have not yet been contacted by the police, but Roberts has stated he is happy the investigation was handled in a confidential and unbiased manner.

Contacted yesterday on the issue, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kazim Hosein, the line-minister for the regional corporations, said he had requested a full report from Roberts and would reserve his comment until he had received it.

An official at the corporation yesterday refused to comment further on the matter, only saying: “I am not at liberty to divulge anything as it is a police matter.”

Acting Snr Supt Nurse is leading investigations.

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