Crown outlines fraud case against former NWA manager
Prosecutors yesterday told the court how a company operated by former projects manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), George Knight, scored a $730 million housing contract after using fraudulent means to get on the list of approved government contractors.
As part of the alleged fraudulent scheme, prosecutors say Knight's company, Centech Engineering Solutions (CES), sought to bolster its application to the National Contracts Commission (NCC) by providing a list of employees and projects it had undertaken.
Clerk of the Court Hansard Lawson said the application was assessed and approved and that CES was later certified as a government contractor.
According to the allegations, CES then submitted a bid to undertake the construction of housing units for the Ministry of Agriculture at Harmony Court and Stokes Hall in St Thomas and was awarded the contract for $732.8 million.
However, Lawson said during the certification exercise conducted by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), a number of "fraudulent activities" were discovered in the way the company was registered.
Among them, he told the court, was that one Sheldon Reid, who was listed as a quantity surveyor employed by CES, later informed investigators that he was never employed to the company and never gave permission for his name to be placed on the application to the NCC.
"He (Reid) stated that he did not know the company, was never employed to the company, and did not supply them with his résumé or certificate," Lawson explained.
He said investigators also found a letter included in the company's application to the NCC, purportedly written by a relative of Knight, claiming that the company had done renovation work on a property in Golden Acres, St Andrew.
However, Lawson said that relative has given a statement in which she denied writing the letter. He said investigators later discovered that the property in question was purchased by Knight and registered in the relative's name.
The clerk of the court said the relative told investigators the property was sold by Knight without her knowledge.
The alleged scheme was outlined when the former NWA manager and his four accused made their first appearance in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday on charges of forgery, uttering forged documents, and conspiracy to deceive.
Knight, along with one of his co-accused, 32-year-old electrical engineer Clava Mantock Jr, was remanded until Monday, when their attorneys are expected to make bail applications on their behalf.
The others - police inspector Andrew Bobb, 62-year-old electrical engineer Clava Mantock Sr and company manager Melville Edwards - were each granted bail in the sum of $2 million. They have also been ordered to surrender their travel documents, and stop orders have also been placed on them at the ports. They are to report to the police three times per week.