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Specialty Hospital: Indian construction firm denies fraud, submitting forged document

The Indian construction firm, Surendra Engineering Corporation (SECL), on Thursday vehemently denied tendering a forged guarantee from the Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank and hinted that it might sue the Guyana government for a hefty sum for work done so far on the construction of the Specialty Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.

“SECL is not aware of the document and has not provided any such document as referred to in the reports in respect of Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. We hereby reiterate that all such allegations of fraud or financial irregularities are completely baseless and without any merit,” states the firm’s Managing Director, Brijen Parikh.

The Guyana government has accused SECL of submitting a second bond through a company, Worldwide Insurance that was validated by the Central Bank of that sister Caribbean Community (Caricom) member-state. Government officials said the central bank has confirmed that the document is a fake and there is no one by the signatory, D. Singh, at that financial institution.

SECL hinted that the Donald Ramotar administration’s decision to scrap the contract for the construction of the health facility might be due to “political compulsions or for any other ulterior motives.” The Guyana government could be heading into an early election at which alleged corruption and mismanagement in relation to multimillion dollar contracts is expected to feature prominently. Already, Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsarran has highlighted government’s move in uncovering the alleged fraud and lack of accountability of public funds by SECL.

Pledging its continued commitment to the Specialty Hospital Project, the construction company said it would be considering legal action against the Guyana government in light of huge investments in time, money and manpower. “SECL is entitled to recover several million USD from the Government in respect of work done at the site so far,” the company added in its statement.

SECL claimed that government was fully aware that the reasons for delay in the project were solely because of its own failure to meet its own obligations under the contract. The stoppage of work was only because of failure or neglect on part of the government of Guyana from fulfilling its obligations.

It is shocking to hear such press reports which can only be interpreted as a desperate attempt on part of the Government of Guyana to wriggle out its stated commitments towards the project,” said the firm.

The company said its capability was never in question and that it has a sound 40-year track record of “vast experience and expertise” in engineering and construction. SECL said it has successfully designed, constructed and completed more than 100 projects in 33 countries worldwide and also completed project in Guyana.

The Guyana government said SECL has made off with more than US$4 million in unsecured monies for mobilization costs and works completed.

Health Minister Ramsarran said the administration recognized that something was amiss when sub-contractors began complaining that they were not being paid. Government accused SECL of obtaining false documents purportedly issued by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago in an effort to get government to release monies to pay sub-contractors.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall says government will assess the value of the work done and that SECL would be sued in the Guyana High Court. The judgment, he said, would be enforced in India through a Commonwealth agreement.