I write in response to Keith Subero’s column of April 9 to correct certain inaccuracies and misstatements and provide clarification.
It is incorrect and mischievous to describe the settlement of the OPV arbitration as a simple “return of Trinidad and Tobago’s downpayment”.
Such a reckless disregard for the truth is particularly egregious having regard to the fact that l made a comprehensive statement in the Parliament which contained the relevant figures and details about the settlement.
To recap, British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) instituted arbitration proceedings against the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, seeking damages for breach of contract interest and legal cost in the sum of approximately $700 million.
The Government defended this claim against this international commercial giant on the basis that the contract was validly terminated because the OPVs were not built in accordance with the contract. In particular, there were serious concerns about the weapons’ firing capability in the vessels’ combat system.
The arbitration was fixed for hearing in May 2012. At the end of 2011, (long before the hearings were scheduled to take place), the vessels were sold to the Brazilian government. The Brazilians purchased the vessels for the sum of £120m, which was in fact substantially less than the sum paid by the Government for the OPVs. Far from granting a refund (as suggested by Mr Subero) and cancelling the arbitration, both parties continued to prepare for legal battle, file evidence and hire specialist maritime experts to assist in the presentation of their respective claims.
The hearing and trial of the arbitration was in fact completed in May 2012 and judgment was reserved. It was only after presentation of the evidence was completed that the arbitration was amicably resolved. I gave evidence on behalf of the State and was in fact cross-examined together with Captain Mark Williams and Commodore Garnet Best.
The fact that the arbitration took place some six months after the OPVs were sold to the Brazilian government highlights the blatant untruth peddled by Mr Subero that BAEs having sold the vessels, simply refunded Trinidad and Tobago’s downpayment. On the contrary, BAE persisted in its claim and continued in the arbitration against the Government. In the end, the Government received approximately $1.4 billion—a sum significantly higher than the “downpayment” made by the Government for the vessels.
The attempt by Mr Subero to sacrifice the truth in the interest of political expediency is most unfortunate and I therefore trust that you would publish this letter so that the record can be set straight.