Investigation launched into allegations of $27 million Caribbean Airlines (CAL) contract

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said an investigation will be launched into allegations that a $27 million Caribbean Airlines (CAL) contract was awarded to an insurance firm, in which Nicholas has ties.

Persad-Bissessar told reporters on Sunday she was not aware of the allegations.

“I do not know anything more than what is in the newspapers…I saw the headline, but I did not get a chance to read the story so it would be inappropriate to comment on that now,” she said. She said, however, that Warner would investigate the matter.

The Prime Minister was at the time attending a military parade at High Street, Siparia in observance of the Siparia Fete. She said she was awaiting a written report on the CAL Board from the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

“The committee has not yet given me a written report, I guess because they have so many matters that seem to be important,” she said. “The board continues to function until such time as that report comes and a decision is taken.”

The Sunday Guardian reported that a three-year contract to provide employment benefits, brokerage and consulting services at CAL was awarded to CIC Insurance Brokers, a subsidiary of CIC Holdings, on February 4. Issa Nicholas Holdings Limited, CIC’s fifth largest shareholder, is owned by Nicholas’ father. He is also a director of the company.

The report stated Nicholas, vice-chairman Mohan Jaikaran, and directors Allan Clovis and Gizelle Russell, were at the tenders committee meeting with insurance manager Ronald Sukhbir and human resources manager Charmaine Heslop Da Costa, when CIC was shortlisted. It is also alleged that WINTV, a local television station owned and operated by Jaikaran, had received a significant number of advertising contracts from the airline. Persad Bissessar said: “I will certainly ask the line minister to look into the matter.”

In Siparia yesterday, Persad-Bissessar took the salute at a military parade which featured members of the T&T Regiment, Prisons and Coast Guard. Before the parade, the Prime Minister visited the La Divina Pastora Roman Catholic Church where she prayed and paid homage to the patron saint.

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