2017 in Review

2017 in Review

There has been a veritable cascade of events as we went through 2017, each seemingly more gripping than the last, so it is difficult to summarise such a year. Accordingly, these are the more important issues which I covered this year and which are likely to arise again in 2018. Continue reading “2017 in Review”

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Property Matters: The Ethics Gap – part five

Property Matters: The Ethics Gap – part five

This article will examine the perennial issues of the ‘interlocking directorate‘ and the role of our professional institutions in maintaining standards.

The previous article examined the High Court ruling against valuers, Charles B. Lawrence & Associates, arising from the 2012 lawsuit of Intercommercial Bank Limited (IBL) for a negligent valuation of a property on San Fernando Bypass.

Lawrence valued the property for $15M and also made a defensive claim that the bank ought to have known that the property sold two months prior for $450,000. That claim of contributory negligence failed, unsurprisingly. It is literally unbelievable that any property could increase in value from $450,000 to $15.0M in two months.

The Court took expert witness evidence from two other valuers, Brent Augustus (for IBL) and Roy Gumansingh (for Charles B. Lawrence & Associates), who both gave opinions that the property was worth $15.0M in 2008, on the assumption of commercial use. The Lawrence Report assumed commercial use and that was found to be ‘wholly misleading‘. That Report also failed to properly point out the presence of occupiers/squatters on the site, which both Augustus and Gumansingh took account of. In any case, the best offer received for the property was $2.0M, two years after the Lawrence valuation. Continue reading “Property Matters: The Ethics Gap – part five”

The Ethics Gap – part four

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Photo credit: futureatlas.com

My focus has been on grand corruption, the large-scale acts of fraud which endanger the very stability and rationale of our society and its key institutions. No act of grand corruption is possible in isolation. The only way to steal these large amount of money is to have the collaboration of responsible officials and professionals, who either look the other way or actively assist in the looting.

That was the case in Eden Gardens and the other episodes covered thus far. None of these acts of grand corruption would have been possible without the intentional help of professionals such as attorneys, engineers, accountants or even surveyors. Our current private and public sector systems rely on the professional standards and ethics of those professionals to ensure value for money. Continue reading “The Ethics Gap – part four”

Property Matters – The Ethics Gap part two

Property Matters – The Ethics Gap part two

The previous article examined the ways that a culture which accepts unethical behaviour can stop even the best laws from working. This week, I will go deeper into those large-scale examples of improper practice in my own profession in relation to State property acquisitions.

As a context note, those are large-scale transactions in Public Money which therefore would be overseen by the new Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Property Act. Property acquisitions must be subject to robust oversight if we are to properly control transactions in Public Money.

This week I will delve more deeply into the details of these cases of valuation fraud in the State property acquisition, so that readers can appreciate just what is at stake here. Continue reading “Property Matters – The Ethics Gap part two”

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These are the documents from my Request for Access to Official Document(s) Under the Freedom of Information Act, 1999 from the State and the agents acting on behalf of the State, in the referenced hotels.

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UDeCOTT

Ministry of Finance

Inland Revenue Division

VIDEO: Address to 6th Annual Caribbean Valuation and Construction Conference – 3 November 2017

This is my address to the 6th Annual Caribbean Valuation and Construction Conference: Best Practices and Experience Sharing hosted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the International Property Tax Institute, and the Institute of Surveyors of T&T held at the Trinidad Hilton on Friday 3 November 2017.

I spoke on the topic “Best Procurement Practice” in which I outlined the new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act and posed the question, “How effective are laws if we do not conduct ourselves ethically?” Video courtesy PixelPlay Media.

Programme Date: 3 November 2017
Programme Length:  00:28:26

DISCLAIMER: These opinions are mine and not those of the RICS, the IPTI or the ISTT.

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