May 31, 2018 News Comments Off on T&T contractor nabbed at CJIA, charged with GMC fraud
Hanniel Madramootoo, the Director of Constantine Engineering and Construction Service Limited, Trinidad and Tobago, was yesterday arrested at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, after he was blacklisted in 2016 for a crime he allegedly committed here.
Madramootoo, 35, of 224 Third Street, Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, a former engineer attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, was hours later, hauled before a City Court to answer fraud related charges over the approval of substandard works done on the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) building in Georgetown.
The charges against him come more than a year after the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), an arm of the Guyana Police Force, filed similar charges against his wife, Felecia De Souza-Madramootoo, and former General Manager at GMC, Nizam Hassan.
Last year, those charges were dismissed against the two by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan who cited that a majority of the prosecution’s witnesses were discredited and in some instances were found to be lying under oath.
The charge against Madramootoo alleges that between October 28, 2010 and April 25, 2012, he, Phillip Madramootoo, his brother and his friend, Nizam Ramkissoon, conspired with each other to continuously approve payments to the 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.
Police are still to arrest Philip Madramootoo and Nizam Ramkissoon, who are both Directors of Constantine Engineering and Construction Services Limited, Trinidad and Tobago.
Warrants have been issued by the court for their arrests.
Madramootoo, who was represented by Attorney-at-law Glenn Hanoman, was not required to plead to the indictable charge.
Petitioning for reasonable bail, the lawyer said that his client has been cooperating with investigations. He argued that the charge against his client is “nonsensical.”
Hanoman dismissed information by Police Prosecutor Richard Harris, which suggested that an arrest warrant was issued for his client.
On the other hand, Police Prosecutor Sanj Singh strongly opposed bail being granted to the defendant pointing out that Hanniel was out of the jurisdiction when the charges were first filed.
According to Prosecutor Singh, SOCU and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) sought assistance from the Trinidad police to arresting Hanniel who was in hiding.
The Magistrate after perusing the case jacket told the court that there were no records of a summons or arrest warrant being issued for the defendant.
In light of this, the magistrate expressed dissatisfaction at the efforts made by SOCU to apprehend T&T contractor.
Admitting that she believes the defendant was not properly notified that he was wanted in Guyana for a crime, the Magistrate said she will not deprive him of pre trial liberty.
Initially, bail was set at $1M for Hanniel, but after pleas for a reduction, it was reduced to $500,000.
Conditions of the bail are that the defendant lodges his passport and travel document with the court. He was also instructed to report to the head of SOCU every Monday until the hearing and determination of the trial.
Hanniel is not due back in court until June 29, when he will appear before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
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 fertilizers.
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.
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