I join the thousands of disgusted citizens in condemning Minister Young for misleading the country into thinking that he was calling an urgent official media conference on a Sunday morning to deal with matters pertaining to National Security and official state business. Lo and behold, it was to deal with his personal family business and when the media questioned him on more pressing and relevant matters such as the government’s mishandling of the COVID crisis, he said he was not there to speak about such matters.
Citizens are understandably upset and outraged! In the midst of this terrifying COVID pandemic, his primary concern was to attack the UNC and the media for raising legitimate issues about contracts awarded by the cabinet in which his family had a personal interest. Minister Young even tried to claim that it was a “UNC-made” document, when in fact it was an official response from the Cabinet Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister to a Freedom of Information Request dated July 7th, 2020 and signed by the Secretary to Cabinet (see copy attached).
Affidavits sworn in the US Courts
I listened to the Minister and there was a sentence I would like to share with you what he said. There was a particular sentence that I would have very much liked him to complete. He said having sued these very contractors for corruption and bid rigging, “I Stuart Young have field affidavits in the United States following the money and there was no way I was going to sit there and be part of ….” Be part of what? Be part of your government awarding multi-million-dollar contracts to the very UNC contractors that Dr Rowley and you branded as corrupt, Stuart?
Unfortunately, in Minister Young’s attempt to provide clarification, he has once again put his foot in his mouth. His response raises more questions than answers. The Minister said he recused himself from the award of multimillion-dollar contracts by the cabinet to certain contractors because he was leading the charge against fighting corruptors under the UNC administration.
He said he filed an affidavit in the US courts against these contractors to trace the money because the government had sued these companies due to corruption and bid-rigging.
This is interesting. Imagine the Minister of National Security was investigating corruption, under the UNC, sued the contractors for bid rigging and corruption and even went so far as to give affidavit evidence in the US courts against them but lo and behold, his government is about to award massive, multi-million dollar contracts to these very contractors and what does he do?
He recuses himself from the meeting so that his cabinet colleagues can give them more work to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars! So, the government is getting into bed with corrupt contractors whom you are suing and turn a blind eye to it? This exposes Dr Rowley’s hypocrisy!
Rowley in bed with the very contractors he branded corrupt
It is a shocking admission that the Rowley administration has been awarding multi-million-dollar contracts to the very companies that they sued for corruption. It is clear that Rowley was secretly embracing the very contractors he publicly branded and demonized as “corrupt UNC contractors”.
Instead of recusing himself, why didn’t Young tell the Cabinet that he was involved in litigation against these contractors and seek to dissuade the Government from awarding such massive contracts to them? Did Dr. Rowley, as Prime Minister and Head of the Cabinet, vote in favour of the award of such lucrative contracts to these so-called corrupt “UNC contractors?”. Why was the Government awarding contracts to them in the face of pending litigation over alleged bid-rigging and corruption?
Were these cases a sham designed to create a political distraction and give the public the impression that the UNC was corrupt whilst the Rowley administration was secretly in bed with them to finance its election campaign? Is this the reason why, after 5 years in office, Dr. Rowley has not brought any campaign finance legislation and proclaimed the legislation to operationalize the independent Office of the Procurement Regulator? After 5 years in office, they have nothing to show on these 2 items which they repeatedly promised as part of their so-called fight against UNC corruption and to promote transparency in governance.
Stop trying to divert attention from the real issue – no one cares which cap your father was wearing!
Stop trying to divert attention from the fact that you never told the nation that you were forced to recuse yourself from 57 cabinet meetings! You had an obligation to make full and frank disclosure to the public about these matters.
You had a duty to tell the country that your family had a vested interest in contracts that were being awarded by the cabinet of which you were a member and that you were forced to recuse yourself due to conflict of interest. It doesn’t really matter what hat your father was wearing when he made his millions, so stop harping on the non-issue of whether he was a broker or not. No one cares in what capacity he was acting. What we do care about is the fact that he stood to benefit from the award of contracts by a cabinet of which his son is a senior member and no one said beep about it!
If he wasn’t acting as a broker for these transactions and had no personal benefit to get from the contracts, then why bother to recuse yourself? What is the percentage of commission and bonus that his father Richard Young is paid on such transactions? Apparently, Stuart Young would have us believe that his father works for free.
As for his brother’s company, well what can we say….
Daddy didn’t get any money from PNM contracts and your brother didn’t benefit either….
They had no personal benefit but you recused yourself 57 times….
We should re-name you Mr Recusal then!
His defence of his brother Angus Young’s prosperity under the PNM is ridiculous. Why would NCB Global Finance which in 2013 had such a small balance sheet and even smaller profit, show such amazing exponential income and profit growth at a time of severe economic depression between 2015 and 2019 in Trinidad? NCB Global Finance went from a loss of $8 mn in 2012 to a profit of $3 mn in 2013, $1 mn in 2014, $3 mn in 2015, $6.7 mn in 2016, $14.3 mn in 2017, $15.8 mn in 2018 and $20 mn in 2019.
Having admitted that his brother’s company NCB Global Finance accounted for “the vast majority” of Cabinet notes from which he was forced to recuse himself, Young justifies the award of significant lucrative contracts totaling some $2.5 Billion on the ground that they were “the most beneficial and competitive bid for the state to accept.” Incredibly, Young has the audacity to declare that “There is, and was, no beneficial interest to my family or me, save that my brother is an employee of NCBFG”.
If Stuart Young is serious about this shallow defence for the million dollar fortunes his family acquired under the PNM, he must come clean and disclose the terms and conditions of the financial consultancy arrangements which his father Richard Young enjoys with companies which were awarded government contracts.
Stuart Young should also disclose the remuneration package which his brother Angus Young enjoys as the CEO of NCB Global Finance. Does it not include a performance bonus that is directly linked to the amount of financial business that he brings in, which is a standard feature of remuneration packages in the financial services industry?
“Founding Member” of Synergy TV and WI Sport TV stations
Stuart repeatedly said that he has never received any dividends from Synergy TV and WI Sport TV stations. He kept saying he was a “founding member” of these companies. No one cares if you were a founding member – what the public is entitled to know is whether you are a shareholder. Since dividends are only paid to shareholders and you claim you were never paid any, we must assume that he owns shares in these companies.
Stop taking us for fools – you have offered no explanation about the lucrative national broadcasting concessions that were granted to this company for both television and telecommunications. How much are these concessions worth on the open market? Do these concessions not increase the value of the company so that your shares will be worth more now?
Not a beep about this. Was this done so that they could pay you a dividend while you spend the next 5 years in opposition?
Why was this secret benefit granted by Rowley’s Cabinet to Stuart’s company never disclosed to the public? How could the Cabinet be granting such major concessions to Synergy TV and WI Sport TV stations of which the senior Cabinet minister is the founding father? Have similar concessions been granted to other companies?