Heads roll at SIF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00

Daniel CanoFour senior officers from the Social Investment Fund were terminated on Tuesday, September 17th. The decision was taken after allegations were made by Kennard Smart in which he provided copies of cancelled checks written out to 4 of the SIF officials. Smart contends that it is because of 'shakedowns' that he has been unable to complete the Dangriga Market project which he was contracted to do in May of 2012 with a scheduled completion date of July 2013. He has however been unable to complete the work and is now claiming that it was because of officers at SIF shaking him down for money.
He provided checks to prove that he had been giving four officers money by way of check and further alleged that the Managing Director received at least one payment of 11 thousand dollars in cash which was given to him in two transactions, one which amounted to $1,000 and the other of $10,000 which he allegedly gave Cano in a black bag.

Those who were canned include, Enrique Romero, Technical Officer in charge of the northern region; Leonel Jimenez, the Engineer in charge of the Dangriga Market; Fausto Pineda who was in charge of water and sanitation and Mike Hernandez, Public Relations manager at SIF. The termination of the employees was also followed by the resignation of SIF, Managing Director, Daniel Cano.

The entire situation broke on Thursday of last week and by Monday, September 16th, an emergency meeting was convened in Belmopan by the Board of Directors of SIF. The meeting was held after a report was presented to the board by the Contractor General at the request of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. The investigation was prompted after Smart wrote the Contractor General and made his complaints. That triggered an extensive investigation that began in February of 2013. Immediately after the presenting of the findings the board decided to terminate the four employees and to ask for Cano's resignation.

Meanwhile, a temporary management structure has been put in place at SIF until a new Executive Director is hired. As for the Dangriga market there are two suppliers/financiers of Smart who have come forward claiming moneys for financing and the supply of materials which they gave to Smart for him to proceed with work at the market.  Those persons are Emy Ramirez and Donovan Bailey. It's a dicey situation for the pair since they claim to have fronted as much as 500 thousand dollars and were in no way involved in securing the original contract which had been awarded to Smart's K&G construction company which has since lost the contract for failure to meet deadlines of the project.

As for the fired employees, Mike Hernandez spoke to the Guardian and explained that he indeed received a single check for $500 from K&G on December 23rd 2009. Hernandez says the check was a gift from Smart and he took it since it was the Christmas Season, a time of gift giving and receiving. He pointed out that the check was in 2009, long before Smart was awarded the Dangriga Market Project and there is no way it could have been a cause for him to not complete the work which was awarded to him in May of 2012.