Investigation into New Demerara bridge corruption probe complete- SOCU Head

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… says file sent to Police Legal Advisor

An artist’s impression of what the new Demerara River bridge would have initially looked like had the government continued with the feasibility study

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has completed its investigation into the sole-sourced feasibility study contract for the new Demerara River bridge, with the file now in the hands of the Police Legal Advisor.

This was confirmed by SOCU Head, Assistant Police Commissioner (retired) Sydney James on Monday.

In a brief interview with this media group, James noted that the file has been in the hands of the Legal Adviser, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh, for several weeks.

The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company LievenseCSO, for a feasibility study into the new Demerara River bridge. The Opposition requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) investigate the award of the $148 million sole-sourced contract.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

In its report on the matter, the Commission flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.

After agitation from the parliamentary Opposition, SOCU had begun investigating the contract award.

Right from the start, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had stressed the need for the Unit to avoid showing favouritism to Patterson, particularly at a time when Opposition politicians were being brought into SOCU for questioning on other matters.

For some time, the Opposition criticised the fact that Minister Patterson was not summoned for questioning, but was instead allowed to provide statements to SOCU – in contrast to the treatment meted out to the Opposition during the Pradoville probe. Eventually, however, SOCU did bring the Minister in for questioning on November 19, 2018.

Besides the LievenseCSO contract, probes were also requested by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and Opposition parliamentarian Juan Edghill, into the D’Urban Park Project and the Sussex Street drug bond.

In a letter to the Commission’s Chairperson, Carol Corbin, Edghill had identified aspects of the project the Party was most concerned about.

The Opposition had noted that despite promises to the contrary, no account of donations received between September 2015 and January 2016 was made public.

It, therefore, queried the procurement process used for works on the project.

The scope a private company has to engage contractors and receive funding for a public project also came into question. The party queried the budgeted and actual costs throughout the project, as well as the final cost. In addition, the Party had demanded information on what payments were made to individuals and contractors up to June.

In the case of the controversial Sussex Street, Albouystown bond Government has since ceased renting, Edghill also approached the PPC to call for an investigation into the contract inked between the Public Health Ministry and a known financier of the coalition Administration.

The former Government Minister had wanted the Procurement Commission to investigate specifically how a contract for a bond for the storage of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies was sole-sourced from an entity that did not own and/or operate such a facility and further “how was the company’s primary Director, Larry Singh, made aware that a drug bond was needed”.

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