United National Congress (UNC) Senator Wade Mark yesterday called on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to state whether he brought a property for $1.7 million, which was actually worth $12 million, thereby denying the country endless sums in stamp duty.
Speaking on the Miscellaneous Provision Act in the Senate, Mark said: “We would like the Minister of Finance to tell us... whether he bought a property for $1.7 million, which was worth $12 million and denied the country endless stamp duty.
“These are matters that we want to get clarified. I cast no aspersions... We want to root out fraud, root out money laundering, we want to get our just dues that are owed to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and we want to get these people who are involved fully exposed and the Commissioner of Police should be involved in this land fraud transaction, where we (the taxpayers) have been denied millions of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in stamp duty,” he said.
Mark said he was aware of a fraudulent act which was committed against the people of Trinidad and Tobago using the stamp duty and deed of trust.
“Land is transferred amounting to three plots on Picton Street at an unknown number from a company called Canon, which transferred three lots to a company called Belgrave Properties.
“The land was brought from Century’s Janitorial Services Ltd for $3 million by Canon in 2000, and it sold the land 12 years later to itself under the name of Belgrave for $1.75 million, denying the citizens stamp duty,” he said.
Property on Picton Street
Mark said the property was valued at over $12 million. “You know who are the new owners of Belgrave Properties? A high-ranking individual in this Government,” Mark said.
He said apartments were being constructed right now on Picton Street.
“If we didn’t have access to the registry to get the trust deed, how would I be able to tell you this today, Madame President? That there are people using the trust deed in an effort to deny the country revenue, to engage in fraud, in money laundering, and the Attorney General should be investigating.
“In fact, police should be involved in this matter because the Attorney General is aware of the individuals who are involved in this transaction,” he said.
Senate President Christine Kangaloo intervened to tell Mark he could not say this. Mark said he “took back” his statement.
He said it was amazing how these things were taking place in this country, and the Attorney General was not au courant with what was going on.
“Is the Government attempting to hide those elements who are using trust deeds in an effort to deny us stamp duty? Why Government is denying us access to trust deeds?” he asked.
Mark said the Minister of Finance needs to say whether he is aware of a company called Belgrave Properties.
Mark said he has more to say in the campaign. “I have names to call, but I know Madame President you will not permit me to call names in this Parliament. I can do it on the public platform...
“The Attorney General must take action, the Commissioner of Police must take time and withdraw that offensive clause,” he said.
Mark said there were people who were “cheating, tiefing, denying, undermining our stream of income”, citing a building rented by the Defence Force for three years which cost the taxpayer close to $600,000 a month.
“I have the name of the owner...but it was sold to another company that is well known in the prisons business, transporting prisoners. They transfer that land... through a deed of trust... and they didn’t pay stamp duty or if they paid, it was next to nothing.
“Because just like how Canon transferred to Belgrave and they ain’t pay nothing, the same way they transferred to another company and they ain’t pay no stamp duty or they paid next to nothing.”