Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan was once again forced to grant yet another adjournment into the fraud matter against Phillip Madramootoo and his friend, Nizam Ramkissoon, Directors of Constantine Engineering and Construction Services Limited, Trinidad and Tobago.
This is 14 months after the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) filed fraud- related charges against them.
Yesterday, when the matter was called before the Chief Magistrate, Police Prosecutor Neville Jeffers, told the court that a SOCU Superintendent indicated to him that the defendants have still not being contacted to attend court.
The prosecutor added that he was advised by the Head of SOCU, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sydney James, that they are trying to make contact with the Trinidadian counterparts for them to arrest the defendants so that they can be placed before the court. The matter was adjourned to April 5 for report.
The men were jointly charged on November 7, 2016 with former General Manager of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) Nizam Hassan, Hanniel Madramootoo, a former engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture, and his wife Felecia De Souza-Madramootoo for conspiring with each other for approving payments for low-graded rehabilitation works done on the GMC building at Robb Street, Georgetown.
Particulars of the charge stated that between October 28, 2010 and April 25, 2012 they conspired with each other to commit the offence by continuously approving payments which were made to contractor of the engineering firm for works that were incompetently and incorrectly done with inferior materials to rehabilitate the GMC building at Robb and Alexander Streets, Bourda, Georgetown; knowing that such works should not have been approved.
However, Hanniel Madramootoo, Phillip Madramootoo, two brothers, and Ramkissoon are still at large.
After a trial before, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, Hassan, 50, of Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, and De Souza-Madramootoo, 34, of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, were found not guilty of the offence.
The charge against Hanniel Madramootoo, Phillip Madramootoo and Ramkissoon are still pending before the Chief Magistrate. In fact, the matter was called yesterday. The court orderly summoned the men’s name thrice, and no one answered or appeared to the names.
Charges were recommended against Hassan and several other persons after SOCU completed its report into the investigations of the multi-million dollar construction of the GMC office building.
A forensic audit report submitted in 2015 by auditor, Saykar Boodhoo, flagged the construction, citing several worrying things at GMC, an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture. The forensic audit report was sent to Cabinet where it was decided that the findings of the report were serious enough to warrant a deeper investigation into not only the construction of the building but also into the handling of hundreds of millions of dollars of fertilisers.
According to Government sources, investigations found the principals of the contracting company are close relatives of the engineer. Investigators reportedly also found that Hanniel Madramootoo, who was assigned to oversee the project, allegedly used a family member to conduct transactions at the Tender Board relating to the project.
The forensic audit which triggered the recommendations for the charges would tell a worrying tale of how things were at GMC between January 1, 2012 and May 31, 2015, the time under review.
With regards to the construction of the building, in 2011 a contract was awarded to Constantine Engineering and Construction Services to build a new head office for GMC and the Guyana Shop, which it runs. A contract in the amount of $23.96M was awarded by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). The auditor could not review the bidding.
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