National Security Minister Stuart young has accused the Trinidad Express Newspaper of a gross attempt to mislead the public, in reference to allegations published on Sunday which state that his father was the beneficiary of State contracts as a result of bid-rigging.
At a press conference on Sunday, in an attempt to clear his family’s name, Young said he could say “without fear of contradiction”, that the allegations had absolutely no merit, adding that his father, Richard Young- was already retired when the People’s National Movement took office in September 2015.
Read the Minister’s Full Statement below:
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.