Financial discrepancies discovered at East Port of Spain Development Company Limited and consequential action taken
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) continues its commitment to its stance on open and transparent government and in that light, wishes to report to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago that in and around the end of October 2017, financial discrepancies were discovered at the East Port of Spain Company Limited (EPOS), a wholly-owned state enterprise that falls under the remit of MHUD.
This discovery was reported by the Management of EPOS to its Chairman and Board of Directors who in turn communicated these matters to the line Ministry, where it was determined that prompt action must be taken by the EPOS.
In and around November 14, 2017, EPOS engaged an independent firm to conduct a forensic investigation into the reported irregularities regarding cheque payments paid to an unauthorised vendor, the apparent forgery of authorised signatures, and the manipulation and/or concealment of relevant records by employee(s) over the period 2012 – 2017.
Preliminary findings by the independent firm confirmed and obtained supporting evidence that uncovered a scheme of unauthorised cheque payments of approximately sixteen million dollars ($16,000,000.00 TTD) to a company affiliated with an employee of EPOS over the 4 year period 2014-2017.
Based on these preliminary findings, a report was made to the Fraud Squad of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service so as to activate criminal investigations into these matters. EPOS is also pursuing civil action to recover the monies that were misappropriated.
In commenting on the irregularities found by the management of EPOS and on the consequent investigation, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Randall Mitchell indicated that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development under this government will not remain complacent or sit idly by when serious instances or allegations of impropriety arise. He further asserted that there would be zero impunity for those with questions to answer where the misappropriation, fraud, or mismanagement of public funds is concerned.
The MHUD remains firmly committed to the principles of good governance and will continue to pursue for the speedy recovery of public monies intended primarily for the improvement of the quality of life for those communities located in East Port of Spain.
- EPOS was incorporated as a Limited Liability Company by Cabinet Minute No 2384 of September 15, 2005 and is wholly owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. It became operational in April 2006 and has a mandate to develop and re-develop the areas of East Port of Spain, through economic, social and physical regeneration. Charlotte Street, Lady Young Road and the Eastern Main Road bound the area.
- The company’s strategic focus is on comprehensive and integrated planning and development and it receives funding from the Infrastructure Development Fund.
- From 2006-2007, the company was aligned to the Ministry of Planning and Development but from 2007-2012, it fell under the remit of the Ministry of Local Government before returning to Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development from 2012-2015.
- From September 2015, EPOS was placed under the purview of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.