PLUS News continues to follow the saga of the closed Dangriga Town market project managed by the Social Investment Fund (SIF), which has come under fire amid allegations of corruption and extortion that has resulted in the firing of four employees and resignation of another. While there is no word as to when the project will resume as the allegations made by contractor Kennard Smart are being reviewed, two late-arriving investors contacted by Mr Smart and who believed in him and the worthiness of the project are now demanding their money back. Lyndon Bailey told PLUS News that it is the Government that must repay him.
Lyndon Bailey – Contractor:
The truth will come out. I have no doubt that we will come out victorious, because we are telling the truth. We were innocent people dragged into a muddy area. We were very innocent. We are investors and we came in to finish that market for the people in Dangriga. So when all these red lights started to flash, then I realized that I am in a very serious problem. I will have problems to receive back my money.
Lyndon Bailey awaits a sit-down with Government and says he has not sought legal counsel, but the other investor, Emy Ramirez, has retained Audrey Matura Shepherd as her counsel. On Wednesday, she denied knowing of any plan by SIF to help Kennard Smart smooth over the cracks of his lack of financing.
Emy G Ramirez – Gush & Emy Limited:
Mr. Cano presented me with this paper and said, “ Sign this.” Mr. Bailey, my husband and somebody else was there. He encourage [to sign because as he said,] “We needed the money”. I did put my name on it, but then I asked him ‘To be reviewed?’ He said, ‘ To be reviewed.’ So, I put Emy Gilharry Ramirez and I put ‘To be reviewed.’ But when I realized and I looked at it, it had submitted by Emy Gilharry Ramirez and it had K and G logo on it and I never prepared anything, so I felt that it was something that was not right, because it’s purporting that I had prepared this document. So, I put a ‘no’ and an x
Audrey Matura Shepherd says that episode and others raises the questions of whether Daniel Cano, SIF Executive Director, knows more than he admits to about the affair.
Audrey Matura Shepherd:
You have to ask how come Mr. Cano was able to get a letterhead of K and G and how could they now on their own go about and prepare a payment as though K and G in collaboration with client prepare that document. That in itself is an impropriety because my client can assure that she never prepare that document and up to today Mr. Smart has never admitted that he prepared that document, so how could Mr. Cano used an official letterhead and prepare a document and presented it to my client. It is up to the SIF officials to investigate what Mr. Cano was doing and how much he was working along with K and G or if Mr. K and G even knew that his letterhead was being used and that a payment was being foist on my client.
The case may be headed to court, and Audrey Matura Shepherd was confident that her clients would receive justice even as the Government continues to deny that any direct negotiations were entered into with the two investors. And in the middle of this, is a municipality that has been inconvenience by the tug of war in the past few months. Well today, the Dangriga Town Council issued a press release stating “Essentially the people of Dangriga paid their dues and fulfilled their stipulated obligations. So why are we being punished and held hostage for the wrongdoings of the members of SIF and the constructor? The People of Dangriga need no apology from SIF and/or the Ministry of Economic Development. The action of the SIF Board to terminate four of its employees and the resignation of the Director offer no definitive solution to the issues surrounding the completion of the Project. We need the Ministry and SIF to complete our Project by 31st October, 2013 as agreed.” The release continues “It must be stated categorically that the People of Dangriga and the Dangriga Town Council did not in any way or form contributed to the perceived corruption that led to, and/or caused the termination of the Project.”