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Govt buys Monteil land for $4M

By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, July 8 2009

click on pic to zoom in
 Andre Monteil ...
Andre Monteil ...

GOVERNMENT has purchased land in Mason Hall, Tobago in which former PNM treasurer and CL Group Financial Officer Andre Monteil held beneficial interest, Senator Wade Mark revealed yesterday.

During debate on a motion in the Senate to approve acquisition of a parcel of land at Mason Hall, Agriculture Minister Arnold Piggott said the land was acquired by the State for construction of the Mason Hall Secondary School.

Shortly before the motion was passed, Piggott said the land was valued at $3.9 million and the State had to date, already paid off $3.1 million with the remaining balance to be paid-off at an interest rate of nine percent.

He also said the land at Adelphi Road, Mason Hall, “is said to belong now or formally to, Adelphi Estate.” But Mark said the land belonged to the Monteil family. Checks by Newsday revealed that Andre Monteil is a shareholder of Adelphi Estate Limited, which owns the estate in Tobago.

In his statement of interests filed with the Integrity Commission, for the year 2007, Monteil declared that he held investments in Adelphi Estates Limited, which is registered at 9 Second Avenue, Cascade.

In the same declaration, Monteil also disclosed that he has interests in several Adephi properties. These include: two parcels “totalling 8.2 hectares of agriculture land” on Adelphi Estate, “just off Belmont Local Road, Mason Hall Tobago”; as well as “lands in Mason Hall Tobago, belonging to Adelphi Estate Limited, of which I am a shareholder.”

Monteil also declared he owned as at 2007, a parcel of land, “in a new residential land development” at Forest Hills, Adelphi Estate, in addition to several other properties scattered across Tobago, Trinidad, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“It is inevitable, for the purposes of advancement in our country’s development, that the Government acquire land for public purposes despite the fact that the State owns approximately 53 percent of the land in the country,” Piggott said yesterday. “Today, this Government is presenting a motion before this honourable house that will facilitate yet another significant project for a public purpose.”

But Mark, the Senate Minority Leader, asked Government to clarify whether or not the land being acquired was in fact owned by Monteil.

He noted that construction of the school at Mason Hall began since 2001. He said there were 120 claims from persons whose lands have been acquired by the State still pending, while payments in relation to the Monteil land have been processed. He said even former Minister of Foreign Affairs Knowlson Gift was waiting for such payments.

“Why the inequity? Why is it, in this instance, eighty percent has been paid?” Mark asked. He also said the THA has acquired over 100 acres at the Adelphi Estate at a price-tag of $11 million.

“We find it a bit strange for seven to ten acres of land. Four million is quite steep,” Mark said.

Monteil was once a chairman of the Educational Facilities Company Limited, which liases with the Ministry of Education on the issue of school construction and repairs.

The retired top CL Financial executive shot into the limelight in 2007 in relation to the controversial sale of $110 million worth of CL Financial shares in the Home Mortgage Bank of which he was chairman to a company owned by himself and his wife. That transaction was never reversed.

“This acquisition was at the request of the Ministry of Education and was for the public purpose of the construction of the Mason Hall Secondary School,” Piggott said in the Senate. “I wish to reiterate that this Government is committed to providing new and improved educational facilities in diverse locations throughout the country.”

(SEE PAGE 14A)

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