Calder Hart must appear in court
By Jada Loutoo Friday, September 21 2012
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FORMER Udecott chairman Calder Hart has been ordered by a High Court judge to attend case management hearings of the lawsuit against him in which he is being asked to repay millions to the State — including the cost of finishing the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in Tarouba.
The lawsuit came up for hearing before Justice Andre Des Vignes, who sat in chamber, at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain yesterday.
Hart, through his attorneys Dr Lloyd Barnett, Stewart Young and Keith Scotland, had asked for additional time to file his defence, but indicated he will not be doing so until he receives certain documents in relation to the allegations against him.
Newsday understands that Hart, who reportedly resides in the United States, submitted a list itemising more than 70 items he wants from the State. He was expected to file his defence on July 18, in accordance with an order previously given by the judge.
However, having failed to file his defence and in ruling on the application for additional time, Des Vignes said there was no good reason why Hart could not file his defence and stated that if there were documents that could assist Hart after he has done so, they will be provided to him and he will be allowed to amend his defence.
Hart was served with the proceedings on June 20, in the lawsuit filed by Udecott attorneys.
Hart now has until November to file his defence and has been ordered by the judge that he be present for the case management conferences.
Hart is being sued for two projects which were under his purview — the BLCA and the Legal Affairs Tower.
The claim against him is for the recovery of $65,680,978.88.
With respect to the BLCA, the State is contending that Hart breached his fiduciary duties as he was fully aware and was warned on a number of occasions about Hafeez Karamath Ltd’s (HKL) inability to fulfill its contractual obligation to construct the BLCA.
The lawsuit, filed in May, stated that since 2002 red flags were raised against HKL—which had submitted bids for the Customs and Excise Campus Plaza Project as well as the Legal Affairs Tower (2004)—both of which were rejected by Udecott’s evaluation committee.
The evaluation committee had expressed concern over HKL’s financial capability and risks associated with its ability to handle mega projects.
“As of March 2005 therefore the defendant was well aware that in respect of construction projects in excess of $100 million, the financial and management capability of Hafeez Karamath Ltd was lacking,” stated the lawsuit.
Despite this, in 2006, HKL was awarded the contract to construct the BLCA — a project which was divided into packages 2, 3, 5 to 8.
HKL secured all packages and was paid a total of $888,730,334.50 in a series of payments from 2006 to 2009. The original contract agreement was for $242,822,500.
According to the claim, the report of the evaluation committee stated in March 2006, that HKL proposed Udecott pay up front for all major material purchases as well as an advance payment for mobilisation of 15 percent of the value of the contract.
“At this point therefore the defendant (Hart) was aware that in the event that Package 2 BLCA was awarded to Hafeez Karamath Ltd, Udecott would effectively be the financier for Hafeez Karamath Ltd,” stated the lawsuit.
It noted further that, “Hart as a member of Udecott’ss tenders and evaluation committee was well aware of HKL’s precarious financial position.”
Despite all the warning and HKL’s financial woes, Hart still defended HKL, stated the lawsuit. The lawsuit added that Hart failed in his duty to ensure advance payments bonds, in favour of Udecott, were extended on their expiration dates and therefore Udecott was unsecured in its payments to HKL.
With respect to the Legal Affairs Tower project, the lawsuit argues Hart failed to disclose his family connection to the company that was awarded the contract — CH Development —which formally changed its name to Sunway Construction Caribbean Ltd.
The lawsuit noted Hart’s home fax number and CH Development’s fax number were the same. Hart, according to the action, neglected to admit that his wife — Sherrine Hart — was related to Allen Lee Hip Ming (brother) and David Ng Chin Poh (brother-in-law) — directors of CH Development. The lawsuit stated Hart was in breach of section 99 of the Companies Act — which speaks to his duty to avoid conflicts of interests. It added, Hart even sat on the tenders committee which he chaired and which awarded the contract to CH Development at a cost of $368.9 million.
Appearing for Udecott yesterday were Gerald Ramdeen and Leslie Ann Lucky Samaroo, instructed by Christlyn Moore and Kerry Ann Oliverie.
Leading the case for Udecott is Vincent Nelson, QC.