Four persons from within the Social Investment Fund were on Monday handed their walking papers, following the completion of the Contractor General’s investigation. Since last month, we have been following the developments of alleged corruption within SIF and its associates as it related to the renovation of the Dangriga Town Market. The Contractor General recently launched an investigation of the Statutory Body and its 1.3 million dollar Dangriga project and Monday saw the ramifications of his findings. Four persons were fired from SIF, they are: Mike Hernandez – Director of Public Relations; Lionel Jiminez – who worked as engineer on the market; Enrique Romero – Financial officer; and Fausto Pineda, another SIF employee. Earlier this month, PLUS News obtained correspondence and exhibits of what appeared to financial transactions between Contractor Kennard Smart and employees within SIF, in what Mr Smart claimed was his extortion between 2009 and 2012, in relation to successive SIF projects. In February of this year Mr Smart wrote to the Contractor General that these persons “have extorted me or shake me down if I did not want to pay the monies requested from me.” We further received copies of cheques to Enrique Romero in the sum of $1,000, and Lionel Jiminez in the sum of $5,000. Meanwhile, Mike Hernandez received $500 and Fausto Pineda $3,000. He claims to have reported the matter to the Executive Director, Daniel Cano, only to be ignored, further allegedly extorted and “sabotaged”. Kennard Smart further claims that they refused to give him projects he says he bid for and won and that at least one project, the Santa Elena Library, was cancelled. Very serious charges and we spoke to Mr. Cano in Dangriga on Friday.
I’m aware of the allegations,. And it’s something very serious that has been alleged, that will certainly impact peoples’ careers and the image of SIF. It is something that already an investigation has started on it by an entity outside of SIF, the office of the Contractor General. I’m sure that if any wrong-doing is found that that would be dealt with as it should be. A number of allegations are being made and those need to be investigated fully. On my own personal basis, I’m not speaking on behalf of SIF or anything, yes I fully deny having received anything from Mr Smart.
But in those correspondences, Mr Smart also claims that he gave Executive Director Daniel Cano $11,000 cash. PlusNews has been informed that Mr Cano has since been asked to resign from SIF. Now it is not certain whether these monies came from the Dangriga Market, as Kennard Smart was employed in several other projects.
Update, Monday September 17th: In view of the Contractor General’s report and acting in the best interest of the organization, the Executive Director tendered his resignation effective immediately. The Social Investment Fund has made arrangements for temporary management until a new Executive Director is hired.