SCG was hand-picked by Udecott to work on the $244 million Prime Minister’s Residence and Diplomatic Centre as well as the $900 million National Academies for the Performing Arts in north and south Trinidad. The company was also awarded the contract for the $460 million Ministry of Education Tower project on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. SCG has also been given a $150 million contract for the upgrade of the South Terminal of the Piarco International Airport project and other contracts.

Combined with the $180 million contract for the police stations and the $44 million Chaguanas administrative complex, companies connected with Zhang alone have been tied to an estimated total of $2 billion in Udecott work.

Zhang, who is said to be Chinese, was quietly awarded a private sub-contract on the Legal Affairs project by Sunway through his own company, Times Construction Company Limited, to do work on the $368 million skyscraper project in downtown Port-of-Spain, according to documents.

The disclosure is just one in a series of findings unearthed by a Sunday Newsday investigation into Zhang’s links with Udecott. That investigation has revealed that while SCG and Zhang worked on and bid for Udecott projects, Zhang:

* received work off of the controversial $368 million Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower contract awarded to Sunway, a company with alleged family ties to Hart;

* helmed SCG when the company received a $180 million contract for the construction of five police stations just 12 days shy of the 2010 General Elections and after Udecott staff came under some pressure from the Ministry of National Security to get the contracts out;

* shared some responsibility, through his company Times Construction Company Limited, for failing to give Chinese worker Xia Deyun, safety training which could have prevented Deyun’s worksite death at the site of the Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower on January 29, 2008;

* is tied to companies that have received more than $2 billion in Udecott projects.

The findings, gathered over months from confidential State documents, interviews, Freedom of Information Act applications lodged by the Joint Consultative Council (JCC), companies searches and other public documents, come amidst reports of a police investigation into SCG’s Udecott projects and amidst ongoing controversy surrounding the construction, and now looting, of the controversial church at the Heights of Guanapo, a project to which Zhang’s SCG has been tied.

The police last month raided the SCG offices at Keate Street, Port-of-Spain and this month seized SCG documents from Udecott, the powerful state enterprise under probe for its projects.

In relation to the $368 million Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower project, Sunway awarded Zhang’s Times sub-contracting work, according to the findings of a confidential report produced by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and Agency (OSHA) which was obtained by Sunday Newsday.

The OSHA report, into the work-site death of Chinese worker Xia Deyun on January 29, 2008, revealed that, “Mr Xia Deyun was employed as a multi-skilled worker for Times Construction Company Limited.” The document, dated February 11, 2008, almost two years after Udecott awarded the Ministry of Legal Affairs contract to Sunway, noted, “Times Construction was a subcontracted company of Sunway Construction (Caribbean) Limited. Times Construction has been in operation approximately one year and six months in Trinidad and Tobago.” The OSHA report found that Times had failed to give Deyun adequate safety training prior to his death.

Companies registry checks done by Sunday Newsday revealed that Michael Zhang was the incorporator of Times Construction Company Limited, which was incorporated on November 25, 2004. An annual return dated November 27, 2009, lists Zhang as a director and shareholder of the company, alongside Zhuo Feng Ou. Zhang is listed as a “civil engineer” resident at Benbow Drive, Westmoorings, in the Times documents.

Further checks revealed that during the hearings of the Uff Commission of Inquiry, Times Construction Company Limited was said by the President of the JCC Winston Riley to have been awarded a $44 million contract by Udecott for work on a Chaguanas administrative complex.

The $368 million Ministry of Legal Affairs project was awarded to Sunway, a firm on whose board a brother and brother-in-law of Mrs Sherrine Hart, wife of Calder Hart, allegedly acted as directors.

A Udecott official said on Friday, that the company was unaware of the details of the Sunway contract to Zhang’s company Times Construction Limited. Zhang did not respond to queries about his company, Times, on Friday.

However in an interview with Sunday Newsday almost two years ago in June 2008 at SCG’s Keate Street, Port-of-Spain, offices, Zhang said the issue of his company was a private matter. Asked if he thought a questionable conflict arose between his private company Times and SCG, Zhang said: “Not really, there’s a different management and I don’t think (there is) a law against a person having more than one company.”

Zhang, who says he is originally from Shanghai but has lived at various locations in the Caribbean such as Barbados and Antigua for the last 13 years, added, “This is something that I feel is private…I’ve been here for eight years already. I used to have a company before SCG: Times Construction Company Limited. This is a personal development.”

But in addition to the Udecott work given to his company via Sunway, Zhang’s SCG was the recipient of a Udecott contract for police stations across northern Trinidad in Maracas Bay, St Joseph, Besson Street, Maracas/St Joseph and St Clair in May, days before the General Election.

Documents obtained from the Ministry of National Security now disclose that SCG got a letter of award for the police stations dated March 19, 2010, two weeks after Hart resigned. Mere days before the General Election, and some weeks after the Udecott board resigned, the contracts were formally signed on May 12.

A Udecott official said that it was in Udecott’s interest to stick with the March letters of award, even though they had been signed under a later discredited board. The official revealed that there was some degree of pressure being exerted from the Ministry of National Security to have the contracts go through.

“The client (Ministry of National Security) were asking about this because they had given Udecott money to start the police stations. They wanted the job to be done. We were also advised as to the potential legal danger of not fulfilling the letters of award,” the official said.



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