A story in Thursday’s Trinidad and Tobago Guardian by reporter Radhica Sookraj said the contract for a planned state-of-the-art hospital and rehabilitation center has been awarded to Canada’s scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin.
Trinidad and Tobago ‘had no choice’ in the hiring of SNC-Lavalin for the . . . hospital project, government sources told the Guardian.
Kurt Ramlal, head of the Trinidad and Tobago government entity in charge of the project, said ‘construction of the hospital is being funded via a government-to-government loan arrangement between Canada and T&T.’
‘The government of Canada has nominated construction firm SNC-Lavalin to design and construct the hospital and rehab center,’ Ramlal told the Guardian. ‘Payment terms have not been finalized, as tenets are still being negotiated.’
SNC-Lavalin’s former CEO Pierre Duhaime was arrested last year for fraud and forgery arising from alleged bribes to win a contract to develop Montreal’s McGill University Health Center, a $2.4 billion super hospital.
In May this year, Arthur Porter, the former head of the McGill hospital, and his wife were arrested in Panama. Canadian police alleged Porter took $22 million in bribes from SNC-Lavalin for the McGill project.
Thursday’s story in the Guardian said when the Porters were arrested in Panama they were en route to T&T.
‘After Porter’s arrest,’ the story said, ‘T&T and Panama were labelled a “money-laundering haven” by Canadian experts who said Porter had no business connections in T&T.’
In May, we posted a video featuring Afra Raymond, an anti-corruption activist from Trinidad and Tobago.
The Caribbean country, he said, amassed huge wealth in the 1970s thanks to oil production. ‘But that brought rampant graft — two out of every three dollars earmarked for development has been wasted or stolen,’ he said.
The Guardian story said ‘Canadian High Commissioner Gérard Latulippe is out of the country and was not available for comment on why SNC-Lavalin was chosen to build the hospital, despite a World Bank ban.’
In April, the World Bank barred SNC-Lavalin from participating in bank-funded projects for ten years because of suspected corruption in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Libya, and Algeria.
An official from the Canadian embassy said ‘the T&T Guardian’s queries had been received and a response would be issued in due course.’
Thanks to a reader for sending the link to the story in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.