NHDT claims $131k expenses

| 29/12/2011

financepic.JPG(CNS): In the 18 months before the RCIPS arrested a board member, directors of the National Housing Development Trust had met around 92 times racking up an expenses bill of $131,200. Despite a number of resignations in 2010 and more in 2011 the board’s expenses continued to grow throughout 2011 as the fees for the chairman and deputy chairman increased a freedom of information request has revealed. In total the chairs earned almost $60,000 between them for the frequent meetings in which decisions on the contracts, tenders and other issues relating to three of the government’s affordable housing scheme sites were made.

The vast majority of contracts relating to the construction of the low cost homes in West Bay, East End and George Town were under $250,000 so all decisions regarding who did the work was made by the trust which appears to be the reason for the regular meetings of the members. However, it is not clear when the various members of the boards resigned but CNS understands that three were gone in the early part of 2010 followed by further resignations throughout 2011. The board is believed to have been meeting with as few as three members before the revelations in October that a police investigation into fraud was underway.

The FOI request reveals that only two contracts regarding the West Bay site which included road and site works were considered to beover the $200,000 mark and as a result were tendered via the CTC. According to the ESTAR reports a contract worth around $1.4milllion was awarded to Works Services Ltd for the earthworks at the West Bay site and ARCP was awarded the civil works contract at just under $780k.

All other contracts were awarded throughout the eighteen month period by the dwindling board members during their frequent meetings.

Despite requesting information on the details of the other contracts for the West Bay site the NHDT trust has stated that as they were not tendered through CTC there are no formal reports. CNS has submitted a further request asking for any other documentation relating to how the decisions were made on the numerous contracts relating to the project.

In August eighteen different local contractors signed agreements for work at the Windsor Park site and each contract fell below the $250,000 threshold requiring a central tendering process. Although this development is worth close to $3million the NHDT made the decision on each contract. In his report on the management of government’s procurement process the auditor general raised concerns about the obvious risk of corruption in such circumstances.

In October the RCIPS arrested a board member under the anti-corruption law on suspicion of breach of trust and abuse of public office, as well as obtaining property by deception in connection with a fraud relating to the East End site. The 59 year old George Town man was accused of manipulating his position of trust to sell insurance to applicants who applied to buy homes. An RCIPS spokesperson confirmed Thursday that, "One man remains on police bail and the investigation is continuing."

See ESTAR reports on West Bay site works contracts and details of board payments below

Category: FOI

Comments (45)

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  1. Slowpoke says:

    I have and am serving on a number of "Task Forces", "Committees", "Councils", etc., over many years and have never earned a cent.

    Please contact me urgently and advise me as to what I am doing wrong!

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are many dozens of foreclosure homes available at costs less than the housing trusts capital and overheads expenditure, in providing an "affordable " home.

    Why would the trust not tap into these houses and apartments first, thereby possibly helping the distressed seller as well as providing ready housing for the new home owner.

    Is this too difficult or does government not wish to take a common sense win win action..?

    • so Anonymous says:

      What rock have you been hiding under?  If you look at what Government has done for the past 8 years its easy to see its the latter.

  3. Anonymus says:

    Why do we need affordable housing and the NHDT when Frank Hall is building exactly what is needed at the right price and with a very reasonable financing arrangement?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don't drink and type ! lol

  5. Chris says:

    12:44 unfortunately CG, Mark and Elio have not been silent on these matters but have instead come out to defend them on the talk shows in many instances!

    Their action (to defend and condone) and inaction (choosing not to leave this organisation called UDP with allegedly corrupt members) shows us exactly what side of the fence of integrity they fall on!

    It seems that none of them are statesmen; just XXXX politicians XXXXX

    Shame shame shame!

    Joe Public best not make the same mistake in 2013 as was made in 2009 as we continue to pay the price daily for the scandalous behaviour.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is Ellio going to apply the NHDT principles to the CHEC port deal?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Everything I read about the UDP makes me shake with disgust. How in the world could anyone vote for these individuals in beyond my comprehension.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is the investigation into the Stan Thomas affair taking so long and why is the premier still walking up and down as a free man? No one should be above the law or appear to be above the law. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely scandalous!  It doesn't matter where you look in this gowerment someone  is on the take, and everyone else is complicit by turning a blind eye.  Politics in this country is a cesspit in a heatwave — it stinks to high heaven.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the courts should sue them for running such an unprofessional job. Afterall they were getting paid for this work and quite handsomely from what I hear.

    • Hezekiah says:

      Scandalous,’ do yam people’s know what the Trust did for people who could not afford homes. Stop being so forking pontificating and sk for all the records and see what it takes or took together those proud home owners into their homes,except those who were proved to holler corruption because of a slowed down process caused bytheultimatefinanciers. We are indeed the rumor mongering capital of d world, and CNS is embellishing on this and getting the hots that allows themtoget more subscribers. Listen y’all CNs sells add space onunfounded facts rad keenly and carefully. It’s your acinery and your shareholders threr ate those of is who are unconnected to the political maelstrom who know your game, profit and revenge.

      The true people will overcome your printing of this or not.

      Hail

  10. Anonymous says:

    Two quotes :

    Innocent until proven guilty !

    Lead by example !

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Three quotes:
      See no evil.
      Hear no evil.
      Speak no evil.

    • Anonymous says:

      Innocent until proven guilty !

      —————————————————————————————————————

      That applies in a court of law.   We as Caymanians can and should demand a higher level of accountability from those trusted with public monies. 

      "Lead by example".  I agree.  Those trusted with the public purse should lead by example and lead by demanding of themselves and others a higher moral and ethical standard than just "innocent until proven guilty"

       

       

       

       

  11. The watcher says:

    Long long, story.  What can one say, who have watched these greedy people only think about themselves.  But there is  more to come because Caymanians in authority have all been scrambling to the top  like a bunch of crabs in basket, not caring who gets crushed or stepped on.  Further more they are doing this not to help their people," Hell No"  just being greedy and self centered.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Greed,,pure greed

  13. Anonymous says:

    Seriously?

    Q3. Can you give a break down of the payments made to each board member. – The payments for the past 18months are follows: The combined total for the Chairman and Deputy Chairman was $59,550 and the total for Directors was $71,650.

    FOI law requires government to produce records. Why did the NHDT produce a summary report? What are they trying to hide by lumping payments to the Chairman and his Deputy as one sum and payments to ALL other Directors as another sum?

    CNS, please contact the Information Commissioner's office and force the NHDT to produce the records showingpayments to each and every individual on the Board. This is what we, the people, want to see.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, its been well etablished by previous Information Commissioner rulings that some 'clumping' or 'banding' of remuneration is allowed when reporting government pay. Expectation of (should be a right to) privacy and all that you know. 

      I think here they released the right amount of information in this case: enough that we can all get an idea of what's going on but not so much that we're right up in people's bussiness. We don't need to know more to know that some thing went wrong there. If you want to ask a follow-up question ask for the presence/absence of the members at the meetings.

      Good job to CNS (for asking) and whichever civil servant parsed out the FOI requirements on this one vs. whatever pressure they received not to release nothing. (Remember, don't bend the FOI Law to protect politicians, their apointees or even your bosses – it just makes you look bad when everything comes out anyway.)

      Now the real question is 'what are we going to do about it?'

    • Anonnymous says:

      Let us assume that the $59,550 number is correct – for 18 months, for 2 persons this computes to $3,308.34 per month –  $1,1654.17 per person/per month.  Not exactly a great financial windfall.  More importantly, we should determine the number of hours the individuals worked in the NHDT over a one month period.  It really doesn't appear that the hourly rate would be overwhelmingly high either.  In the absence of the number of Directors, I don't how the amount given for them computes.

      I have no idea who these individuals were/are, so I have no "axe to grind" – just taking a rational look at the information. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, let's see…the average person works 160 hrs a month to get that amount (1654.00).  Do you think any of them worked 160hrs for the month?

  14. Polly Tricks says:

    Little piggies getting fat at the trough.

  15. Anonymous says:

    not everyone thinks alike we all have choices respect others

    some professional persons earn large sums of money for their services so…

    if the average meeting lasts for two hours and give or take an hour of travel time and expenses

    along with what ever effect and plans that are in place to facilitate them attending the meetings

    so that their business doesn't go belly especially in these economic times.

    now add it all up a lawyers make 3 to 6 hundred dollars per hour and a regular joe the plumber

    charges about $75.00 per hour so lets slit the difference at say $ 150.00 per hour x 3 hours

    that's $ 450.00 per meeting times 92 meeting equals a grand total $ 41,400.00 so the total

    is more than the break down given in the story, the 2 positions probably get different

    compensation rates and it was not the head that was arrested that would mean that the

    individual was being compensated for at a lower rate than the example. Just slit less than

    60,000 in two and you get 30,000.00 but of course you wouldn't want minimum wage

    earners spending the peoples money or would you? 

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a professional person. I earn large sums of money and charge my time at over 650 dollars an hour. I love my county and acknowledge that this society enables the environment which rewards me. It is therefore my privilege to have served on numerous government boards. I have literally given many hundreds, if not thousands of hours of my expertise in service to my country and have never been paid a cent. That is how it should be.

  16. Anonymous says:

    gravy train!  please (burp, slurp) pass the gravy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    "Why the silence"?? That's easy to explain. Because like so much other wrong doing here that just "disappears" off the radar,  it involves true born Caymanians, well known in the community.

  18. whyyaaa? says:

    It would be nice to think – perhaps foolishly – that any one single thing that these awful politicians, and people in prominent positions of trust, could be carried out without the dishonest greed consumed behaviour which we are faced with hearing about day in and day out!

    I'm sure somewhere here are all these people that visit church on Sundays and proclaim to be the good citizans of this land… boy their skin must crawl each time they enter!!

     

  19. Peter Milburn says:

    If this is indeed the case I say shame on the board members and chair persons.Where is the community spirit which so many of those who have gone before us showed over the many years of service.When the Cayman Islands are in such bad shape finacially how can some people live with themselves knowing that the money could have helped someone in far greater need.All our boards need to be shaken up and more people added who might be willing to give back some of their time and expertise.Get ridof the "vote for me and you will be on a board." mentality.They should basically ALL be voluntary(with maybe a few exceptions(very few)

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Over twenty years ago I was privalidged to sit on the board of The Housing Development Corporation a predecessor body to the NHA. I recall persons such as Nick Duggan, John Collins, Dan Scott, Rupert Ackerman and Jimmy Powell being just a few on the board whose manager was the very efficient Angela Miller. There were monthly meetings and no delays in our audit. As years went by this became a political forum and board members only became aware of their being replaced when they read it in the Gazette. What an insult to those that had no political issues and were just happy to serve the community. We were paid $25 per annum and I think that in most years it went to charity or we waived the amount.
      There are many who still are happy to serve but not whilst this Government remains at the helm. I have no doubt whatsoever that the investigations of the Auditor General will uncover much more as indeed will the investigation into the Stan Thomas affair.
      As Dylan sang The times, they are a changin’.

      • Anonymous says:

        The current administration is all and only about getting as much as you can for yourself.  From the top to the bottom, these people should be relieved of duty.  If an audit of this government was conducted, I suspect they'd all go to jail.

         

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with you Chris. It ought to be considered an honour to be asked to serve on such boards and an exercise in personal integrity to do so impartially and objectively.

        Our current political leaders make such worthy service to the community impossible.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dont you think that Angella Martins was paid? Civil servants can afford to sit on boards as they are paid and over paid at the top.

        • Chrisjohnson says:

          Please reread my response. It actually reads Angela Miller, not Martins,who did an outstanding job as the paid manager of the old HDC. The rest of us got $25 per annum. No one complained and we actually enjoyed giving something back to the community. In selecting future statutory boards the Government needs to ask for volunteers and select the most competent, and not choose their cronies.

    • Stiffed-Necked Fool says:

      This is truly sick! How do we now just sit by and allow this to go unpunished? How do people in their right mind do such things knowing that the Cayman people are going through perilous times. They, and I mean all connected to the UDP, have to go and should all be investigated on their way out!

  20. R.U. Kidden says:

    Quote:  "In his report on the management of government’s procurement process the auditor general raised concerns about the obvious risk of corruption in such circumstances."

    Do you suppose we could leave out "obvious risk of" to be more factual?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it about time the RCIPS investigated Dan Duguay's 2009 report into Operation Tempura.

    The sums of money handed out there make this look like pocket change.

    It seems that while alleged domestic corruption is being targeted similar acts involving ex-pat police officers, and former police officers, are being carefully ignored.

  22. Ex-UDP supporter says:

    I know they did promise us in 2009 a "better way forward" but come on now

    What an embarassment!

    How could the real Minister for NHDT MLA Elio Solomon and his junior minister Mike Adam allow this to happen?

    Please do not be fooled because they are both accountable to the voters politically, socially and financially for all activities with the housing projects, the day to day administration and what has happened with NHDT funding.

    If they want the credit when good things happen they will also have to accept the blame.
     

     

  23. Disgraceful says:

     

    But this is standard practice for the UDP. I really hope the chairman is looking at himself in the mirror and preparing to explain to the Caymanian people why he abused their trust. I have served on Government boards and I tell you this! all monies due to me were refused and given back to the organization (HSA). I viewed my time on the board as my contribution to Cayman, having returned here from University determined to help my country. When I see these large amounts paid to the Chairman, I am staggered. Is this the best we can do? Appoint selfless and honest people for once and clean house of all these crabs. The UDP has ruined a good system, immediately following the elections their closest "supporters" or should I say, "A$$ kissers" come with their hands outstretched and the pillaging begins. I sincerely hope Cayman is ready to turn the page on this disgraceful behavior and start by electing honest people next election. I am embarrassed that stories such as this end up painting us all with the same brush. Mark, Ellio, CG? Why the silence? 

    • notagain:::8 says:

      To 12:44 why the silence

      They are no better than whats at the top, chip dont fall far from the tree. remember that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your honesty and integrity is very much appreciated. We need at least 18 like you to run for govt.  

    • anonymous says:

      It is I fear a sign of the times, both here and elsewhere.

      I served on the HSA Board for several years and assigned the small fees to the Staff Benefit Fund.

      I also served for 6 years on the CIMA board and as Chairman for 4 years. During that time, the local directors were paid $500 per month. The workload was quite considerable, taking into account not simply the main Board meetings, but also Executive Committee meetings, sub-committee meetings and ad hoc task force activities. The Chairman received no additional remuneration, for the significantly greater responsibility and time burdens.
      As we know from the FOI requests published in the Compass earlier this year, the remuneration of the local directors has increased very dramatically, and the remuneration of the Chairman even more so.
      Tim Ridley