UNC: Young, family personally benefited from Gov’t contracts

The United National Congress (UNC) has taken issue with National Security Minister Stuart Young’s explanation on his 57 recusals from Cabinet notes.

Young said he recused himself as a cautionary measure to avoid being accused of a conflict of interest on certain notes from 2016 to present.

However, the UNC said the Minister’s response raises more questions than answers.

In a statement, the party raised questions over “bid-rigging and the award of contracts to corrupt contractors” and supposed financial benefit to Young’s father, Richard Young, and younger brother, Angus Young, during his tenure as a Minister under the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration.

The UNC noted that the Minister in his personal explanation said he recused himself from matters relating to Cabinet Notes that were dealing with the award of contracts to certain contractors, after competitive tender as he was involved in litigation with these same contractors.

The party claimed the PNM administration accused said contractors of “bid-rigging and other corrupt behaviour” but has been “awarding multi-million-dollar contracts to the very companies that they sued for corruption”.

The UNC questioned why Young recused himself instead of telling the Cabinet he was involved in litigation against these contractors and discourage Government from awarding “such massive contracts to them”.

The party further questioned whether the cases against the contractors were meant to create a political distraction.

Meanwhile, the party said Young’s admission that the “vast majority” of Cabinet notes from which he has recused himself were in relation to NCB Global Finance, where his brother is CEO, “justifies the award of significant lucrative contracts totaling some $2.5 Billion.”

Young previously indicated that the award of these contracts were beneficial to the State and the most competitive and did not personally benefit his family in any way.

“There is, and was, no beneficial interest to my family or me, save that my brother is an employee of NCBFG”.

The UNC further called on Young to “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.”

The party said: “If he wasn’t acting as a broker for these transactions and stood to benefit personally, 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.”

The party continued: “Young’s self-serving declaration that “my family has NOT personally benefited or financially benefitted from any Cabinet decision during my tenure as a Government Minister” rings hollow when one considers the fact that these matters were hidden from public scrutiny for the past five years. Why was there no public disclosure about these numerous conflicts of interest based on multimillion-dollar government transactions with companies involving Young’s father and brother?”

Young, in response, denied that his family has benefited personally or financially from any Cabinet decision taken during his time as a minister under the current administration.

He accused the Express newspaper of misleading the public. 

Below is his full statement:

The Express Newspaper, and Ms Anna Ramdass, have today, once again, engaged in a most distasteful, deliberate and dishonest publication of fabricated untruths.

Over the period of 2016 to 2020 I have recused myself from participating on specific Cabinet Notes. On each occasion that I recused myself it was as a matter of precaution, principle, and out of a sense of decency to avoid any possible conflict of interest or allegation of conflict of interest. There was no risk of any financial benefit to me or my family in any recusal.

The reasons for my recusal from participating in discussions and decisions on Cabinet Notes are as follows:-

– I recused myself from some Cabinet Notes that were dealing with the award of contracts to certain contractors, after competitive tender.

At the time I would have been involved in overseeing litigation against these contractors where they were alleged to have been involved in bid-rigging and other corrupt behaviour. I swore affidavits in support of the State’s pursuit of civil action against some of these contractors so I recused myself from Cabinet Notes involving the said contractors;

– my father, Richard Young, was appointed as the Chairman of the International Financial Center (IFC). He was also appointed as a member of a Cabinet appointed Implementation Committee to interact with the Private Sector.

Accordingly, I recused myself from any Cabinet Note that mentioned the IFC and/ or the Implementation Committee, eg Cabinet Notes which laid before Cabinet the annual reports of the IFC;

– as I have stated publicly before, I recused myself from ANY and EVERY Cabinet Note in which NCBFG Limited was mentioned.

It is this category of note that made up the vast majority of Cabinet Notes that I recused myself from.

The Ministry of Finance engages in competitive tenders for financing and invites all of the financial institutions in Trinidad and Tobago to submit bids. The Ministry of Finance’s technocrats then analyze the various bids and advise the Cabinet which is the most beneficial/ competitive bid for the state to accept.

I took the precaution of recusing myself from every single Ministry of Finance Cabinet Note that mentioned NCBFG regardless of which financial institution was successful. It should be noted that NCBFG has only been successful in 3.4% of the financing awarded by the Ministry of Finance from 2015-2020 as was published by the Ministry of Finance recently.

My brother Angus Young is the CEO of NCBFG. He is an employee of this financial institution and not the owner. It should also be noted that NCBFG is a part of the second largest indigenous financial group in the Caribbean. It is Jamaican based.

I took the precaution of recusing myself from any Cabinet Note that merely mentioned NCBFG as in my view, this is the right and decent thing to do. There is, and was, no beneficial interest to my family or me, save that my brother is an employee of NCBFG; and

– I am a founding member of Synergy TV and WI Sport TV stations and accordingly any Cabinet Note which mentioned either I recused myself from.

These are the categories of Cabinet Notes that I recused myself from during my time as a Cabinet member.

Anna Ramdass and the Express have invented categories of conflict in their newspaper publication today (and I can only assume that it is malicious and deliberate).

Anna Ramdass and the Express state that my father, Richard Young, acted as broker to transactions before the Cabinet. This is completely untrue and a fabricated lie of the Express newspaper. AT NO TIME WHATSOEVER has my father acted as a broker in any transaction whatsoever and certainly never in any matter that came before the Cabinet from 2015 to 2020. This dishonesty of the Express is astounding and I have advised my father to seek legal redress against Anna Ramdass and the Express.

I am also placing on public record that NCBFG is a publicly traded company on the Stock Exchange of Trinidad and it is not owned by Angus Young, he is the CEO and an employee.

My family has NOT personally benefited or financially benefitted from any Cabinet decision during my tenure as a Government Minister.

The Express Newspaper has once again deliberately mislead the public and shown that it is not interested in responsible journalism or publication of the truth.

On a day when we, as a people, celebrate Emancipation from slavery, a day that should be full of reflection and promise, it saddens me to have to issue this statement.

Source: http://www.looptt.com/content/unc-young-family-personally-benefited-govt-contracts