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National Energy Corporation (NEC) Thread
« on: May 10, 2015, 04:19:25 AM »
Fraudulent NEC invoice shows order for frankfurters and ketchup for Guyana
By Asha javeed (Express).


$8M Hot Dog Scam

Hot dogs and ketchup. An order for US$1,250,187.36 (TT$7.8 million) worth of it was made under the title “Food items for Guyana” by the National Energy Corporation (NEC), via an invoice sent to the Central International Company LLC.

This was one of the fraudulent transactions that formed part of a $60 million string of illegal wire transfers from the NEC in 2011.

While the Central International Company LLC of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is in the food business, the NEC, a subsidiary of the National Gas Company (NGC), is not.

The NEC does not have an office in Guyana and did not have any business activity with the country at the time.

On Monday, September 19, 2011, a wire transfer order was sent by NEC to its bankers, First Citizens (Point Lisas), to debit the bank’s US$ account for the US$1,250,187.36 for Central International, with the note: “forward the Debit Advise to National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago.”

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, two other wire transfer orders were issued to transfer US$4,633,717 to Steadroy CO Benjamin & Co in Antigua and US$3,725,000 to Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc in Dubai.

They all contained the forged signatures of two authorised signatories, one of which included the NEC president at the time, Andrew Jupiter.

The documents obtained by the Sunday Express with the wire transfer orders are all stamped by First Citizens on September 22.

The NEC said the fraud was discovered days later, on September 26, by the company’s finance and accounting department.

By the time they had discovered the fraud, US$100,000 was already debited from the Dubai account and the balance was frozen.

Continuing investigations into the wire transfer fraud by the Sunday Express’ Investigative Desk reveal that by the time the NEC detected the fraud, the money had already been debited from its bank’s accounts and recovering it was costly.

The NEC has recovered about TT$35,090,000 with an outstanding balance of TT$25,410,000.

The Wire Transfers

So how did the wire transfer orders get past the bank?

The documents all bore the NGC’s letterhead as well as two authorised signatures.

Investigations by both First Citizens’ and NGC’s audit department on the matter concluded that the letterhead and signatures were forged.

Furthermore, when calls were made by the bank to NEC to authorise the sum to be transferred, they were advised to go ahead with the payment.

The aftermath of the fraudulent transaction resulted in First Citizens disciplining managers for not being diligent enough and the NEC suspending four employees.

E-mails obtained by the Sunday Express show that when First Citizens was first aware of the incident, it simply classified it as “Wire Transfer Error”.

When the employees were asked to reverse it, the reason given was simply because the payments were “not NEC related”.

1. The Central International Company LLC—the sum of US$1,250,187.36 (TT$7.8 million) under the title “Food items for Guyana”.

Despite Central International admitting that it did not do business with the NEC, it did not return the money causing First Citizens to engage in litigation to recover the money. While most was recovered, the bank decided to settle because a sum was covered by its insurance.

2. Antigua and Barbuda law firm Steadroy CO Benjamin & Co—the sum of US$4,633,717.00.

However, this sum was never paid because it was halted by the payee’s bank, RBTT Caribbean Bank.

Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, now Antigua’s Attorney General, told the Express that the transaction never occurred.

3. Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc,—the sum of US$3,725,000.

The Sunday Express could find no trace that the company or even the address listed exists, only the account number. While the money was sent, US$100,000 was debited from the account. NEC’s communications manager Wendy Seow yesterday told the Sunday Express the recipient of the funds, Andrew James Thomas Newman, has been convicted and sentenced.

“Subsequent to the completion of the criminal case, efforts continue through State to State intervention by relevant agencies and ministries, to have the funds in Abu Dhabi returned to National Energy,” NEC said in a statement yesterday.

“Stylised Link”

1. At the time of the transactions, Minister of Finance Larry Howai was chief executive of First Citizens as well as chairman of NEC.

2. A top official of First Citizens when the fraud occurred was later appointed to a senior position at NEC.

Former chairman of First Citizens, Nyree Alfonso said yesterday the link is a “highly stylised” one.

“There is no conspiracy there. It was a bank wire transfer fraud which is very prevalent these days,” she told the Sunday Express.

Alfonso explained that the issue with NEC was since 2011, long before Howai became Minister of Finance in 2012 and before the NGC’s corporate communications budget came under probe.

“They are all unrelated. I don’t see how that can be juxtaposed now because somebody jumps up on a platform and said so. But that’s playing politics,” she said.

Questioned on why the bank, at the time, took a decision to stop legal proceedings, she would only say that bank and client information remains confidential.

In response to whether he was satisfied that everything was done to recover taxpayers’ money, Howai said yesterday: “Yes. I expect that substantially all the funds will be retrieved. I understand that about 525 has been retrieved so far and the difference is currently held in the Bank of Abu Dhabi and the NEC is working with the authorities to have the remaining funds repatriated. I understand that it has to be done on a Government to Government basis.”

RELATED

Rowley: PM not interested in finding NEC/First Citizens $60m
By Kim Boodram (Express).

 
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of having “no interest” in trying to find out what happened at the National Energy Corporation (NEC), where $60 million was illegally siphoned via a First Citizens account.

The matter was raised by Rowley at a political meeting in Malabar, Arima, on Thursday.

On Friday, the NEC confirmed $35 million had been recovered while the remainder was being held by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The NEC further stated the Fraud Squad, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Ministry of Energy were investigating, while one person has been convicted in Abu Dhabi.

Rowley, speaking yesterday after a rally by groups concerned with the State’s development plans for Chaguaramas, said Persad-Bissessar not only did not care to find out what had happened at the NEC but that she also appointed as Finance Minister the person who was in charge at both companies at the time of the incident.

Former banker and current Finance Minister Larry Howai was chief executive of First Citizens and NEC chairman at that time.

Rowley said the Prime Minister must be asked whether she knew of the incident.

He had earlier stated Persad-Bissessar was “pretending” to have no knowledge of the issue.

The matter of the $60 million from the NEC through First Citizens was disclosed through more e-mails, which Rowley released on Thursday.

He said yesterday, he did not have to prove the validity of these new e-mails, that being a job for the police.

Asked his opinion on remarks last week by Persad-Bissessar that People’s National Movement’s (PNM) MPs, who have boycotted the Lower House since Rowley’s suspension, should, like him, have their salaries taken away, Rowley retorted that the PM should be asked whether she gets paid for the days that she spends in her private home in Philipine, “incapacitated”.

Addressing the rally earlier on, Rowley said he believed the only way to save Chaguaramas was through a change of government.

He echoed comments made in the past few months by those opposed to Government’s plans for the peninsula—which aim to turn it into a recreation mecca—saying Government and the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) were involved in a land grab.

Rowley said the assets of the people were under threat of being placed, possibly in binding agreements, into private hands and would later be repackaged to the people in a manner that they would have to pay to use facilities.

Speaking on Chagville beach, with the Chaguaramas Convention Centre to his back, Rowley said the message must be sent to Government that the plans would not be accepted and that under no circumstances would the State be allowed to turn that beach into a water park.

He said some Government ministers, including Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie and Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, have claimed the PNM wanted the Convention Centre for itself.

Rowley said the party has not used that venue for a long time and has in the past paid up to $30,000 for a weekend to hold functions there.

He opened his address yesterday by saying that in spite of Government having thrown him “out of a building” he still held office as Opposition Leader, MP and as a citizen and was facing the crowd as that citizen.

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

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Re: National Energy Corporation (NEC) Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2015, 04:33:21 AM »
NEC lawyers in Dubai to file for return of funds
By Renuka Singh (Guardian).


Dubai-based attorneys, retained by the National Energy Corporation (NEC), are expected to appear in court next Wednesday to begin the process of returning the $25 million that was stolen to the company. The lawyers are also seeking an additional $6 million (TT) in compensation from Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc, whose company was on the other end of an illegal wire transfer of funds from the NEC.

This will be a total of $31 million to be returned to the NEC. On Thursday, the NEC’s lawyers, Ince and Company, sent correspondence to the NEC notifying the company that it had received the court date. The attorneys advised NEC that an application was made to the Dubai Centre for Amicable Resolution and the” first hearing” was scheduled for May 27, 2015, for the four judgements. The application would seek to achieve the following:

(i) Obligate (1) Andrew James Thomas Newman and (2) the National Bank of Abu Dhabi to refund to National Energy the amount of US$3,724,998 equalling AED13,707,992, plus legal interest at the rate of nine per cent, calculated from the transfer date of this amount on September 21, 2011, to the bank account of Andrew James Thomas Newman, until the final payment is made to National Energy;

(ii) Obligate Andrew James Thomas Newman to pay to National Energy an amount of AED3,475,000 as compensation, plus legal interest at the rate of nine per cent calculated from the date of the filing of the case until the final payment;

(iii) Obligate (1) Andrew James Thomas Newman and (2) National Bank of Abu Dhabi to pay the case fees, the expenses and the attorney fees; and

(iv) In the event that the case is not settled before the Dubai Centre for Amicable Resolution, the case file be sent to Dubai Court to issue the required judgment. Ince and Company was retained back in 2011 when it was first discovered that $60 million was siphoned from the company’s account at First Citizens in three tranches and sent to three companies in Antigua, Boston and Dubai. Of that $60 million, just under $25 million (US$3,725,000) was sent to Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc located in Dubai and remained in a frozen account in Dubai.

The Sunday Guardian received information from NEC’s senior executives confirming that its lawyers had applied to the Dubai courts to leverage on Andrew James Thomas Newman and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi to refund the sum to NEC.

The lawyers are also expected to be seeking the court’s approval to obligate Andrew James Thomas Newman to pay to NEC an amount of $6,015,393 (TT) as compensation, plus legal interest at the rate of nine per cent calculated from the date of the filing of the case until the final payment.

“The criminal case has confirmed that National Energy (NEC) is the owner of the funds, obtaining a judgment which confirms that the funds are to be returned to National Energy,” the executives said.

Another legal letter between NEC and Ince and Company, dated March 5, 2015, advised of the following course of action: Filing of NEC’s civil claim before the Dubai Centre for Amicable Resolution; application to the UAE Central Bank to return the funds based on the criminal judgment in National Energy’s favour; meeting with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi in an attempt to convince them to return the funds to National Energy based on the criminal judgment in National Energy’s favour.

The Sunday Guardian learned that in 2011, the siphoning of funds was done using a procedure “which was not standard for the confirmation and validation of NEC wire transfers” from the NEC. Despite not being responsible, the NEC has put measures in place to ensure that this siphoning of funds does not happen again.

In an email interview with NEC management, they confirmed that even though the wire transfers were “fraudulently prepared outside National Energy’s internal processing system,” the company had implemented the following changes:

n Implementation of an electronic funds transfer system for foreign payments

n Improved security and controls over documents, records, information and assets

n Strengthening of physical security and access controls to the Finance and Accounting Department

n Requirement that NEC president approve all payments greater than US$100,000

The NEC is also denying media reports that one of its messengers participated in the fraudulent siphoning of funds.

“The individual who presented the forged documents to First Citizens was not an employee or agent of National Energy and is unknown to the Company,” the NEC executives said.

They also said that the company had no information on the contents or details of any invoice for food or condiments before the fraudulent transactions were executed.

“None of the recipients of the fraudulent transfers were or have ever been a vendor, contractor, creditor, employee, or agent or had ever been in any way affiliated with National Energy,” the company seniors said.

MORE INFO

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley first ventilated the missing funds during a PNM platform meeting at the Larry Gomes Stadium on May 7. At that meeting, Rowley noted that current Finance Minister Larry Howai was at the helm of both organisations when the fraudulent wire transfers were done.

Rowley revealed then the details of an Interpol-led investigation into how $60 million had been siphoned from the NEC through an account at First Citizens. Rowley criticised Howai for lauding his own tenure at First Citizens during a parliamentary session, saying that he never raised the NEC money loss issue.

Howai subsequently responded that because he straddled both organisations, he stepped aside and requested that two other senior executives take over the investigation at each company.

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

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Re: National Energy Corporation (NEC) Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2015, 04:38:15 AM »
Audit of NEC reveals forged names, unauthorised people involved in scheme.
By Asha Javeed (Express).


How the $60M Scam Went Down

Blame First Citizens.

That's the conclusion of an audit conducted by the National Gas Company (NGC) into the $60 million wire transfer fraud at its subsidiary, National Energy Corporation (formerly NEC, now National Energy), in September 2011.

The audit, which was directed by then NGC chairman and now Finance Minister Larry Howai, who had recused himself on the matter, noted the bank did not follow due diligence before it transferred US$9,608,904.36 (TT$60.5 million) through three wire transfers out of NEC's US dollar account.

The issue, which is before the Fraud Squad, was re-introduced in the public domain by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley at a public meeting on May 7. Rowley raised questions about where the money had gone.

With more questions than answers into who perpetrated the fraud and who eventually stopped First Citizens from going further to retrieve lost customer funds, the audit has unravelled how the fraud was executed.

The audit report is dated September 30, 2011.

The investigation team comprised Claire Gomez-Miler, then manager of Internal Audit; Wendy Jeffers, audit senior, Financial and Compliance; with support from Wendy Murray-Tomas, Suzette Ramadan and Rawle Philip.

On Monday, September 19, 2011, a wire transfer order was sent by NEC to its bankers, First Citizens (Point Lisas), to debit its US dollar account in the sum of US$1,250,187.36 for Central International Company Ltd in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, two other wire transfer orders were issued to US$4,633,717 to Steadroy CO Benjamin & Co in Antigua, and US$3,725,000 to Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc in Dubai.

They all contained the forged signatures of two authorised signatories-one of whom was the NEC president at the time, Andrew Jupiter.

After the fraud was detected on Monday, September 26, 2011, efforts were made to recover the sum.

National Energy has recovered about TT$35,090,000 with an outstanding balance of TT$25,410,000 in escrow in the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

But the NGC audit pointed fingers at First Citizens for how its money was transferred out of its account.

"FCB's Indemnity Contract tendered for NEC's approval (re 'Andrew James Thomas Newman Inc, US$3,725,000'), transfers all blame for the fraudulent act on NEC, although the document used for the perpetration of the act was:

1. accepted by FCB personnel from an unauthorised person;

2. were not NEC's official letter of correspondence;

3. carried questionable signatures that could have been easily corroborated with specimen signatures provided to FCB for such purposes;

4. corrected by FCB without prior communication of 'error' to NEC (Payee Bank was stated on fraudulent document as 'National Bank of Abu Dubai'; FCB sent the money to "National Bank of Abu Dhabi"); and

5. processed by FCB without standard NEC/FCB verification protocol, there being no prior e-mailed, scanned and faxed copies of the instruction. These irregularities have made FCB a party to the incident and its personnel a main suspect in the fraudulent action, acting alone or in collusion with others. Also, there is no evidence that the fraud committed occurred within NEC's internal system, that the 'Wire Transfer Instructions' accepted by FCB carried valid authorisations/signatures, or were delivered by NEC personnel. It is therefore recommended that NEC reject FCB's Indemnity Contract until it reflects the true position of both FCB and NEC. It is also recommended that NEC continue collaborating with FCB to recover all monies, as quickly as possible," the audit said.

The report concluded all three wire transfer orders received by FCB on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, were:

1. fraudulently prepared outside NEC's Internal Processing System;

2. carried forged authorising signatures of NEC president and another manager with the intention of fraudulently receiving funds from NEC bank account;

3. were prepared on documents that were not NEC's official correspondence letter;

4. were made payable to beneficiaries/vendors unknown to NEC;

5. were delivered by a person unauthorised by and unknown to NEC management, and stated as being unknown by FCB personnel; and

6. were processed by FCB using a protocol that was not the standard protocol for validation and confirmation of NEC Wire Transfers. "As at date of this report, information and evidence indicate there was collusion between persons unknown who had sufficient intimate information of the wire transfer process and NEC's operations, business hours, and access to both NEC Wire Transfer Instruction Template and NEC Internal Stationery. Whilst the possibility remains that a third party acted alone in the preparation and presentation of the three fraudulent wire transfers, it is Audit's opinion that there are too many factual matters that prevent the elimination of FCB's personnel from the fraudulent act without further evidence," the audit said. "It is also Audit's opinion that there are factual matters that prevent the elimination of NEC's personnel from the fraudulent act without further evidence.

. It appears that the stationery used to generate the fraudulent documents were from NEC;

. The e-mailed correspondence used by FCB personnel to support 'confirmation' came from NEC personnel, but under circumstances created by FCB personnel that remain highly suspect," it said. The audit, however, noted there was opportunity for the fraud to be committed.

It noted:

"a. Wire transfers require a minimum of 48 hours to be cleared and NEC reconciles its bank account in the morning of each business day.

. NEC offices were closed for business on Thursday 22 and Friday 23; NEC's earliest reconciliation was scheduled for Monday, September 26, when the fraud was discovered.

. The fraudulent documents were 'received' by FCB on Wednesday 21, debited to NEC bank account on Thursday 22 when NEC was closed for business; and on Friday 23, FCB directed its corresponding bank to complete the wire transfers to the various recipients.

b. The commitment of the fraud depended on NEC having valid wire transfers or similar transactions being processed by FCB at the time of the fraud.

. NEC has no fixed schedule for requesting wire transfers and drafts, and for sending its courier to FCB; therefore an 'expectation' is only created when NEC notifies FCB via e-mail, fax or official telephone call.

. On Tuesday 20, NEC e-mailed and faxed four valid letters requesting US-dollar drafts (two in the morning and two in the afternoon); it is Audit's opinion that this event provided the opportunity to initiate the fraud.

. One of the fraudulent 'Request for Wire Transfer' letters was dated September 19 (Monday), but no valid transaction took place on that date. The remaining two fraudulent letters were dated September 20 (Tuesday), allowing all three fraudulent letters to be ready for 'presentation' to FCB on the date valid transactions were being processed (Wednesday, September 21)."

The audit noted that "processing of the fraudulent wire transfers was preventable if FCB personnel had exercised standard protocol, including scrutiny and corroboration of the documents, particularly when delivery was made by an 'unknown' person and without prior notice (e-mails, scanned copies and facsimiles) from the NEC.

"Valid NEC wire transfers are initiated by NEC forwarding to FCB its Wire Transfer Instructions via fax and scanned copies e-mailed to multiple FCB/NEC personnel. NEC sent no prior communication to FCB advising of such transactions during the period Monday 19 to Wednesday, September 23, 2011," it said.

The audit noted the only documents produced by FCB to substantiate its processing of the wire transfers were the fraudulent wire transfer documents claimed as being received by FCB personnel; and e-mail, sent on Wednesday, September 21, requesting information on whether the "wire transfers" were urgent.

"Said e-mail was sent only to NEC technician instead of the standard multiple FCB/NEC personnel; and sent under the heading 'Petty Cash Breakdown' instead of 'Scanned Payment Instructions'," it stated.

The audit added there were other contributing factors which enabled the fraud.

"There were four valid US-dollar drafts within the process for which e-mails, scanned instructions and facsimiles were disseminated to FCB Tuesday 20, and receipted by FCB on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. These 'work-in-progress' documents may have contributed to 'incorrect assumptions' being made, which further facilitated the fraud unintentionally.

"Audit is of the opinion that perpetration of the fraud was dependent on valid documents being within the system, and therefore person/persons with knowledge of these transactions intentionally used this opportunity to commit the crime," it said.

The audit noted that both FCB and NEC were State organisations and are prohibited from taking legal action against each other without prior approval of the Minister of Finance.

"Consideration should be given to providing FCB with a Letter of Comfort that stipulates NEC's agreement not to pursue legal action against FCB unless directed by the Minister of Finance," it said.

On Friday, September 30, 2011, FCB reported the matter to the Fraud Squad at the end of the joint preliminary investigation by NGC Internal Audit and a representative of FCB Securities Department.

"It is recommended that NEC make an official report to the Fraud Squad. NGC Internal Audit will continue to liaise with FCB Securities Department and the Fraud Squad until the matter is resolved," it said.

The Sunday Express understands the case remains a solvable one, but a decision was taken to not pursue the matter further by First Citizens.

National Energy has said it remains committed to retrieving the money held by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

Contacted on the matter, deputy chief executive of First Citizens Jason Julien said yesterday the bank had no comment at this time.

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

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Re: National Energy Corporation (NEC) Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 01:36:33 PM »
NGC signs deal to construct gas pipeline for new industrial estate
By Geisha Kowlessar-Alonzo (T&T Guardian).


The National Gas Company (NGC) has signed an engineering, procurement, and commissioning (EPC) contract for gas infrastructure for e TecK’s Phoenix Park Industrial Estate (PPIE), with the Beijing Construction Engineering Group Company Limited (BCEG). BCEG, a Chinese construction and engineering firm, is the design-build contractor for PPIE.

PPIE, a Government initiative led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is a state-of-the-art light industrial estate that is being developed to stimulate economic development and further diversification efforts.

The 145-acre park is being built by landlord Evolving TecKnologies and Enterprise Development Company Ltd (e TecK) through its contractor, BCEG.

In a statement NGC said the EPC contract signing, which took place on January 18, 2021, offers NGC an alternate avenue to achieve its strategic goals.


“NGC, with its wealth of experience in pipeline infrastructure construction and the sole supplier of natural gas in the local energy sector, saw the project as a natural fit with its expanding business model,” the statement added.

It noted that NGC’s involvement in this initiative augurs well for T&T as it increases local content in the overall project.

NGC said conservative estimates by Government revealed that some 1,000 people are expected to be employed during the construction phase.

Once operational, the park will directly employ over 4,500 persons.

“As landlord PPIE, e TecK is proud to have been the catalyst for the discussions leading to the signing of the EPC contract between NGC and BCEG.

“We see this as a significant alliance to meet the demand and supply of natural gas to businesses that will be occupying 45 of the 78 leasable land lots in the areas of light and advanced manufacturing, assembly, logistics and distribution and information and communication technology (ICT) industries,” Steve De Las, President, e TecK said.

Caribbean Regional General Manager of BCEG, Ma Shulong added that the company is proud to be a part of this project to help stimulate the economic development within this country.

“Our employees, both local and Chinese, are fully dedicated to having this project completed on time. The alliances between the two countries have grown stronger and we look forward to working with our partners in the future,” he noted.

NGC President Mark Loquan said his company continues to play an important role in revolutionising the local economy.

The PPIE is still in the construction phase, with a projected completion date of December 2021.

The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.