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The $100M hidden S76D

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The $100M hidden S76D

Old 7th Jan 2021, 16:40
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The $100M hidden S76D

Another classic!



Moonilal: Probe 'rotting, hidden' helicopter

YVONNE WEBB2 DAYS AGOOropouche East MP Dr Roodal MoonilalOROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has called for a public inquiry into a Sikorsky S76D helicopter which was leased by the People’s Partnership government in 2014 but left in a camp at Cumuto by the PNM for the past five years.

“Five years they hide it there," he charged. "Not even the Civil Aviation Authority could have gained access to the helicopter. The CAA could not do inspections or provide registration or airworthiness certificates.”

He said the People’s National Movement (PNM) regime has sought to scandalise and criminalise everything the UNC or PP government did.

Because the PNM administration failed to maintain its contractual obligations or file a defence when the matter was taken before a court in New York, taxpayers may now have to fork out $100 million for a default judgement over the helicopter.

“This is the real scandal that deserve a public inquiry by the JSC on National Security of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Speaking at the United National Congress's (UNC) virtual launch of its by-election campaign on Monday night, Moonilal said the new, state-of-the-art helicopter was leased to provide aerial support to the Defence Force and the police.

When the PP administration left office, the Rowley administration failed to implement any and all contractual obligations, he claimed, out of spite and malice, because the helicopter had been leased by then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar government.

He said the Rowley government kept it hidden in a hangar at Cumuto and its neglct led to legal consequences.

“They defaulted on the lease and are now talking about sovereign immunity.

“The government was to enrol the chopper in certain internationally accepted maintenance programmes, pay insurance, but the TT government refused flatly to pay the monthly rental fee.

“Today this helicopter is at Cumuto, waiting on a scrap-iron dealer to pick it up. It cannot go back to the USA, since there is no export certificate of airworthiness."

He said when the matter was taken to court in New York, government refused to put in an appearance, to file documents or offer a defence, and TT taxpayers may now have to pay in a default judgement for a helicopter that can only be sold now as scrap iron.

“If the taxpayers have to fork out $100 million for this idle piece of iron, it must come from Rowley’s gratuity, from Stuart Young’s salary and from Al-Rawi rentals. Not from the taxpayer,” Moonilal said.

Holding up a photo of the helicopter, hel said, “This matter has absolutely nothing to do with whether Gary Griffith gave sovereign immunity, whatever that means. This is about a pending default judgment in an American court as a naked example of malice, incompetence and corruption.

"They treated a legal and proper lease contract entered by the partnership just like they did with the Biche High School, the Ramai Trace Hindu school and everything the PP built.

“Their position was that the PP government leased a helicopter – we don’t want that. Leave it to rot like the Debe UWI campus. It took a pandemic to open the Children’s Hospital at Couva and the Debe campus.”

While government was able to abandon concrete, steel and glass, he said it could not abandon legal obligations arising from a contract, particularly one from a lease arrangement where it do not own the asset. He said the PNM government could have terminated the lease and send back the helicopter if it did not want to use it.

“It would have cost much less than the $100 million that taxpayers have to pay now for their spite and incompetence,” he argued. “At a time when our borders are overrun by fleeing Venezuelans on boat, rafts and swimming, we had for five years now a brand-new, spanking helicopter parked up in a shed in Cumuto.”
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Old 7th Jan 2021, 17:08
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$100 million Trinidad dollars = $14.7 million US dollars. Id say that is quite realistic for price of a new equipped S76D....
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Old 8th Jan 2021, 16:09
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This gets more interesting by the day!



Young: Helicopter contract not flying with PNM government

JENSEN LA VENDE23 HRS AGONational Security Minister Stuart Young. -NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Stuart Young will write to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate a contractual agreement between TT and a US-based company that leased two helicopters to TT.

Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday afternoon, Young said after noticing several red flags in a contract between Milestone Aviation Group, that later changed to Vertical Aviation #1 LLC and the National Operation Centre (NOC), he hopes the DOJ can unearth corrupt practices.

“I shall be writing to the Department of Justice in the US. One arm of the DoJ is the FBI, which is a very serious organisation. I intend to write to the DOJ as a representative of you, the people of TT, to ask them to commence a criminal investigation into the procurement of this contract. There are certain players who may have been involved in the procurement, but they will also call upon Vertical Aviation to explain, because in the US they have very serious legislation with respect to any alleged bribery of foreign officials and how you enter into contacts with foreign countries, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in particular.”

Young said the contract in question is for a lease agreement for a helicopter which was not suited to be used for national security, and was outfitted to be used for executive use only.

“The helicopter could not be flown from December 2015. It had limited use.

"I would like to debunk any suggestion by the UNC that the helicopter is used by law enforcement agencies as wrong. It is completely configured for executive use.”

Young added that the five-year lease for the helicopter came with a US$139,500 monthly price tag minus any cost for upkeep and training a pilot to fly the helicopter. He said the details of the contract was proposed to then head of the NOC, Garvin Heera, in August 2014. On August 20, eight days after the proposal, Heera signed the contract and a note was taken to Cabinet on September 16, 2014. On November 20 the Cabinet note was confirmed by the NOC.

Young said when his administration came into power in 2015 it reviewed the contract and realised that it was disadvantageous to TT. The aircraft also lost its airworthiness by December 2015 and has had to begrounded since.

Apart from the lease, there were hidden fees for insurance and maintenance costs of more than US$500,000 annually.

One of the red flags noticed in 2016 when the Government sought to pull out of the contract, was the waiving of the sovereign immunity which would have allowed TT to cancel the contract without being sued.

“What happened is, the then attorney general advised that TT can waive sovereign immunity. Every government has immunity in other countries, so why is it that the UNC gave up the sovereign immunity? That was the first red flag."

Another concern unearthed, which Young said he knew about since November 12 last year, was the absence of a net lease clause which prevented TT from terminating this lease arrangement, and if the Government did, it would have to pay the full amount owed on the lease.

“Another part of the clause which was quite disadvantageous was that if you fail to pay the lease, the lessor could have exercised the out option and could immediately call upon us the people of TT pay an exorbitant sum of US$16 million, regardless of any costs already paid.

"These are massive red flags.”

Young explained that the issue now concerning the TT government’s breach of contract stemmed from the unearthing of the troublesome clauses.

“The AG managed to negotiate a settlement with respect to it. and we paid a settlement agreement of US$6.5 million at the time and had to return the helicopter at our own costs, meaning costs to the people of TT. It made absolutely no sense to utilise the helicopter...there was no use for this type of helicopter under the current administration.”

The pandemic stopped the return of the helicopter, a Sikorsky S 76 D, Young said and with fighting the pandemic being a priority financial issue, the payment was not honoured.

The issue of the helicopter was raised on Monday by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, who called for an inquiry into why it was never used but “hidden away” at Camp Cumuto.

The following day Young warned Moonilal not to call for any investigation into it.

On Wednesday he said that warning was because Moonilal was part of the National Security Council that approved the lease of the helicopter for national security even though it was not designed for such use.
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