Acquisition of Building Construction Gooljaury by SICOM: Transaction is Controversial

9 years, 10 months ago - January 26, 2013
The tone was set by Paul Bérenger, last Saturday. He spoke of a "new scandal". This in reference to a transaction between SICOM and Arushi Development Ltd..

This is the redemption, SICOM, a building still under construction on land lease to BPML Cybercity Ebene. A transaction made in the form of sale state future completion cost of Rs 591,620,860.

After the "revelations" of Paul Bérenger, the past week has been eventful. Including the reactions of SICOM, Business Parks of Mauritius Ltd (BPML) or even Khushal Lobine which is both the President of the SICOM and also a shareholder in companies where Doomeswarsing (Rakesh) Gooljaury have interest.

It is in fact in 2008 that Doomeswarsing Gooljaury had his application to BPML to obtain land that would be used for the construction of a building to completion, would house the activities of the sector ICT. In April 2009, two acres of land, located next to the Cybertour No1, had been assigned to Arushi Development Ltd in Doomeswarsing Gooljaury which is a 50% shareholder.

The land was sold for the sum of Rs 5 million per acre and Rs 600,000 annually as rent for the lease. However, at the end of 2010, work had not yet begun. In early 2011, SICOM would begin negotiations for the purchase of project Arushi Development. On 12 January, the company Gooljaury BPML written to ask that the lease is transferred to the SICOM. Things were not long since the day BPML accesses the application and emphasizes that it has no objection to that work began in November 2012.

However, the early work will have several reports. Two aspects are also stressed about this transaction. First, the building is always ensured by Rehm-Grinaker, the promoter of Arushi Development Ltd, and secondly, SICOM has signed the contract to take over the building Gooljaury when she had not yet moved into its new building 14 levels, Thumb Creek, Port-Louis.

Responses were quick. From the beginning of last week, SICOM held to clarify things. Through a statement, the SICOM explains that the transaction was "seamlessly according to the principles of good governance and processes according to rigorous investment of SICOM."

Same story at BPML. Its president, Dharam Naugah says that everything was done in a transparent and no preferential treatment was given to the businessman Doomeswarsing Gooljaury.

ICAC on its side to understand the ins and outs of the transaction between the company and SICOM Doomeswarsing Gooljaury. However, for the moment the Anti-Corruption Commission prefers to speak of gathering information instead of investigation. The alleged conflict of interest, says ICAC is ethical, not legal. This is explained by the fact that Khushal Lobine, President of SICOM, is not a shareholder within Arushi Development Company Ltd., which sold the building under construction at the SICOM. The ICAC also explores another point.

Namely Doomeswarsing Gooljaury and Kushal Lobine are partners in Lubines Holdings Ltd.. However, the president of the SICOM only holds 20% of shares, and there is a conflict of interest, he should hold at least 30% of the shares.

Khushal Lobine sees no conflict of interest

Tuesday, Khushal Lobine defended himself and insists he sees no conflict of interest. His main argument is that it is the presidency of the SICOM since January 2012 while the 'letter of intent' of January 2011. It also insists on the fact that it is a shareholder in a company where Gooljaury have interests does not prevent to act as counsel. "What is wrong if a client who is a friend or loved one retains my services? "Asks Khushal Lobine. "I am not the legal advice of Arushi Development Limited. In addition, the procedures that were launched before my arrival in SICOM had run their course, "he says.

Rajen Bablee, executive director of Transparency Mauritius: "We need a Freedom of Information Act"

The people must not forget that it is he who holds the real power, not the politicians, says Rajen Bablee, executive director of Transparency Mauritius, given the "scandals" that repeat. Considers it necessary the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act so that there is greater transparency in public affairs.

The sale of the building under construction Mr. Gooljaury to SICOM to Rs 600 million is certainly not illegal, told the ICAC, but it could pose an ethical problem. Comments.

After the publication of several articles in the press reports of alleged maldonnes, Transparency Mauritius submitted a dossier to the ICAC for an investigation. We are not in the presence of a first official report on the matter to ICAC. We must first consider all the facts to determine whether the sale could hide an illegal act under the Prevention of Corruption Act. We are in a state of law and democracy. It is true that the perception is that this case is not ethics. From there, we examine what are the solutions.

What is needed is to focus on the flaws in the system and see how we can eliminate them. A first conclusion we can say that the definition of close (relative) in PoCA is limited. Should amend laws. Who will? Of course, it is for the National Assembly to make these changes, but at the same time, we realize that all these cases involve politicians and their families. Will they change anything if people do not push to make these changes?

> Shops tandem Nandanee Soornack-Rakesh Gooljaury to Plaisance airport have been variously discussed as well as the statement of the CEO of AML, Serge Petit. He first stated that Nandanee Soornack has no business at the airport and then change their mind when the press was put to the obvious. What do you think of this?

I could not impute motives to Serge Petit. We regret that things went well. It's a good thing that the press has responded immediately and has done a painstaking job to get the facts. That said, there are questions about political appointments or transparency for public procedures.

On the other hand, politicians always say that we must respect the institutions. This is consistent, but do not do what they want or institutions that they put puppets who will corrupt the real purpose of these institutions. It is necessary that those who have been chosen act like professionals. In addition, we may wonder and question the circumstances under which contracts have been awarded to that particular company. Transparency Mauritius hopes that the authorities can clearly demonstrate that procedures have been followed.

> Lack there of transparency in the management of affairs of state?

Indeed, there is a lack of transparency and communication in the management of state affairs. Several politicians have promised a 'Freedom of Information Act, but once in power, they forget. Why? What is need to promote political agents or other relatives for public office? The country does not belong to a handful of people and their families. If it says it wants to work for the country, look competence. This is the only way we could encourage our young people and give them hope for a better Mauritius.

> Do you feel that people are really aware of the issues?

We do not believe that people are fooled. It often feels trapped in a system that favors the powerful of the day. The Mauritian is not of the caliber to descend into the streets to demand an explanation.

This probably comforting politicians of all persuasions. We need to develop an appropriate strategy for the population to feel involved, participating in public debates and it pushes politicians to make changes in respect of democracy. We are currently investigating this strategy because it is clear that so far, the public has not had the appropriate catalyst. But it would have, sooner or later, people realize that it is she who holds the real power and it has simply delegated to politicians ... It is also important that members of the public continue to bow to politicians or they ask them favors by marketing their votes.

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