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Sep 18, 2013

Contractor Kenard Smart says he hasn’t been paid since May 2013 and is turning to the World Bank

The dust is yet to settle on the sandal at the Social Investment Fund which led to the resignation of Executive Director Daniel Cano and the termination of Mike Hernandez, Enrique Romero, Faustino Pineda and Lionel Jimenez. It’s a story that we have been following since last Thursday which has exposed corruption within SIF in the rehabilitation of the Dangriga Municipal Market. One principal that has not been heard from is Kenard Smart, the contractor who months ago complained to the Contractor General that he was being extorted. Smart isn’t giving interviews, but he has written to the World Bank, which is the funding agency for the million dollar market seeking adjudication since the project was stopped last Friday. Smart says he hasn’t since paid since May 2013. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

While the urgent restructuring of the administration of the Social Investment Fund took effect on Tuesday morning, the spread of consequences, in the wake of a scandal that has rocked the organization, is being felt across the gamut of the Belize Municipal Development Project, particularly among the players involved in the rehabilitation of the Dangriga Town Market.  Following the dismissal of the agency’s executive director Daniel Cano and four employees of SIF, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Santiago Castillo Jr., has commented on the contract between SIF and developer Kenard Smart.  That agreement, he says, does not extend to investors Gush and Emy Ramirez, nor does it include Lyndon Bailey, the project’s former financier.

 

Santiago Castillo

Santiago Castillo, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development [File: September 17th, 2013]

“Unfortunately for them, our contract is with Mister Smart, K&G Constructions. We have no contract with Gush and Emy and with Lyndon Bailey. They were subcontracted by Mister Smart and up to date, we have paid Mister Smart a total of a little under six hundred thousand dollars in payments for the Dangriga project of which he has not been forthcoming with his part of the deal.”

 

Despite the contention, a letter written to Luis Gutierrez, Branch Manager of Scotia Bank (Belize) Ltd. in Corozal Town, by SIF’s Project Manager Ernest Raymond, acknowledges Emy Ramirez’s participation in the undertaking.  In that communication Raymond refers to a review of financing options made available to Ramirez by the bank to provide for a credit facility for materials and labor.  He says, quote, in respect of the above SIF confirms that the value of the contract remaining to be disbursed based on payment applications for works completed is seven hundred and eighty thousand, six hundred and thirty-two dollars and thirty cents.  A substantial payment to Mrs. Ramirez is expected shortly for a payment application, unquote.

 

Attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd is representing Gush and Emy.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Gush & Emy

“The minister should have never gone on a limb and make any statement because clearly he doesn’t know all that transpired at SIF why my client maintains their strong position against SIF.  Clearly, by his own admission in the news report, he just got into the picture the fourteenth of September and clearly from last year these allegations were made, they were formalized this year and he didn’t even have wind of it.”

 

Likewise, guarantor Lyndon Bailey, who is in the hole for seventy-five thousand dollars, has taken umbrage with Castillo’s position.

 

Lyndon Bailey

Lyndon Bailey, Investor

“I want to advise him, please invite us to Belmopan, me and Mrs. Ramirez and let us sit down and have a nice gentleman and woman meeting because we have more lightning and thunder that we will be putting out there in the next week to come.  And, as I said, we have at least six months of bad weather for SIF.  So if Santi wants us to solve this problem we are still open for him to call us in.”

 

Conspicuously absent from all the drama that has unfolded in the media is Kenard Smart, principal of K&G Construction Ltd.  On Tuesday, he issued a letter to Raymond which was also forwarded to Ramirez and Bailey, as well as Yoonhee Kim, a representative of the World Bank.  That memo addresses the use of an adjudication clause within his contract with SIF.  It states that any disagreement between the employer (SIF) and the contractor (K&G Construction Ltd.), within thirty days, the adjudicator shall be designated by the appointing authority designated in the contract, at the request of either party within fourteen days of receipt of such request.

 

Smart goes on to say, quote, unfortunately, the last time I had received any payment was in May 2013, when I received per certificate number twelve, only sixty-five thousand, three hundred and seventy-four dollars and sixty-six cents.  I subsequently entered into a new agreement to finance the completion of the project and not one of the payments were made to my assignee Emy Ramirez, despite SIF’s approval of this arrangement and subsequent assurance to her that payments will be forthcoming, unquote.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“By a letter, under the hand of both Mr. Cano and Mr. Ernest Raymond, Mr. Smart is told, “you need to bring a financier, you need to give us a work plan, you need some kind of security” and my client is brought in as an investor.  But my client would not have invested had SIF not given assurances as to the amount of money in the project still that can benefit her.  But better yet than that, when my client didn’t start getting any payment and became antsy, look how far SIF personnel went to keep her in the project and she kept pumping money.  As recent as August nineteenth, a letter is sent to the manager of Scotia Bank Corozal Branch under the signature of Ernest Raymond who is then signing as project manager.”

 

Smart, in his letter, states that, quote, Mr. Ernest Raymond’s decision to demand payment under letter of guarantee was wrongly taken and failed to comply with specific requirements and thus has sought to prejudice me and all who invested in this project, unquote.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“What the minister needs to do now is to launch an investigation into SIF, at least this part of the project where their investment is stuck to find out how come it is that in October 2012, Mr. Anthony Thurton left the project.  By the very minutes of SIF, I can read it right here, it says, “the project was originally supervised by design consultant, design consultant is Mr. Anthony Thurton and Associates.  Since then the site supervision was carried out by SIF in the persons of Ernest Raymond and Lionel Jimenez until the May seventeenth, 2013 Lionel Jimenez was replaced with Francisco M. Gonzalez.  That’s critical because it is during that time when clearly SIF personnel were approving monies that we then know that payments, substantial payments were being made.”

 

Kenard Smart is now requesting that the appointing authority, the Association of Professional Engineers of Belize for the adjudicator to review the project manager’s decision, since Raymond failed to present certification of work completed on the Dangriga Market Project. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “Contractor Kenard Smart says he hasn’t been paid since May 2013 and is turning to the World Bank”

  1. gone fishing says:

    corruption officers need to eat!
    les encanta mordida.

    kind of like the fools who stole $2000 worth of computers and ripping out copper, destroying a medical clinic in the process; creating $300,000 in damages and cutting off medical to people who need it.

    onward to Belizean poverty, your path is clear for the old and new thieves.

  2. karim says:

    We understand that Kenard spent $3,000,000.00 in campaign money when he ran for the UDP, and lost. Where in the world have a teacher raised that kind of money.

    It is possible some of this is barrowed money from the Bank, and he need to make payments regularly. Getting these contracts on a platter allowed him to make payments, but if he is taking more than the contract can handle, then he end up in the kind of predicament where he cannot complete the contracts, because of shortage of funds. The amount of money the fleecers are taking do not add up to the amount that is short.

    The people need explanation because as you can see, in all his contracts he have complaints about not paying people on time, or his creditors.

  3. Guerra says:

    All our ministers never know what is happening in their ministries. They all get it from the news! Corruption the run amuck and no one knows because everyone is doing their own little thing! lol

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