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Fabian Purcell sent home!!!

Fabian Purcell – sent home on suspension via email communication

Acting Head of government’s Physical Planning Unit (PPU), Fabian Purcell was due to meet Wednesday with an attorney-at-law to discuss a letter which he allegedly received from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance sending him home pending an investigation into allegations that he accepted bribe money to fast-track an application for the failed Shrimp Farm project in St. Mark.

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday night, Purcell confirmed that he had received an email from his Permanent Secretary informing him that instructions had come from the Public Service Commission (PSC) for his suspension while a probe is conducted into the allegations made against him.

The embattled PPU head declined to give specific details about when the suspension would take effect and suggested that any further information on the issue should be directed at his “principals” in the Ministry of Finance which is headed by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

This newspaper contacted head of the PSC, Prescott Swan on Wednesday morning and he said that the commission met on Monday in the weekly session but did not deal with the Purcell matter.

According to Swan it never came up in their deliberations and as such he had no knowledge about the letter.

Sources close to the body which is responsible for hiring and firing public officers confirmed that the Fabian Purcell issue was not even on the agenda for the weekly sitting of the commission.

THE NEW TODAY was not able to contact the PS in Finance to ask questions about the authenticity of the letter sent to Purcell which directed him to go home.

Sources familiar with the operations of the public service told this newspaper that any such letter of suspension should come from the Chief Personnel Officer in the PSC and can only be sent to Purcell by the PS in Finance if so authorized by the commission.

This newspaper was responsible for the exclusive article in last week’s edition in which Purcell admitted that he had received monies from the developers of the failed shrimp farm project in Victoria.

Former Senior Operating Manager Construction/Engineering for the Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture (GSA), Manfred Soeffing, the company that was behind the failed Shrimp farm project confirmed the authenticity of the documents given to THE NEW TODAY about the transaction with Purcell.

Soeffing who was directly involved in the negotiations with Purcell said that the money was paid to Purcell as “a bribe” to fast-track their application for the St. Mark project.

When questioned by this newspaper, the PPU head did not answer whether he had permission from the PSC to engage in private work for the Shrimp farm and if he paid the relevant VAT taxes to the government for the service rendered.

However, Purcell disputed that he had collected EC$7000.00 from the project developers as indicated on a wire transfer, saying that it was only EC$1500.00 that was given to him.

He rejected that the money was in the form of “a bribe” or that he had engaged in any form of extortion to get the money paid to him by GSA.

Since the publication of the article, some persons have doubted Purcell’s version of events as it related specifically to the scope of work that he did for the developers to get the controversial funds.

According to Purcell, he assisted the project developer in doing a Topographical Site Survey for the outline planning application for the project as it was regarded as very critical for processing the application since the person who was assigned to do it, Venance Msacky, a former government surveyor, had been slow in getting it done.

He said that he used a Geographic Information System (GIS) software to do the work outside of government office and time and that had to be paid for.

Msacky disputed this, saying that he had done the work himself in keeping with his contract and had submitted the survey drawing to Kenrick Gabriel & Associates who was involved in the design work for the Shrimp farm.

A longstanding surveyor told THE NEW TODAY that he had grave doubts about the version as outlined by the PPU head in last week’s article as he seemed to be “very evasive and elusive”.

“Suggesting that he produced Topographic details for a parcel of land using a GIS software is a blatant lie. You must first go out in the field to obtain the physical data then use a Software to extrapolate the field work – using the so-called GIS software is very inaccurate. An AutoCad Software is generally used for such exercises”, he said.

“Physical Planning Unit & Lands & Surveys Departments are among the most corrupt departments in the Public Service – over 60% of the drawings approved are done by members of the Department or Firms associated with such members”, he added.

During the 1984-90 rule of the first New National Party (NNP) government of late Prime Minister H.A Blaize the entire staff of PPU were asked to resign following widespread allegations of corruption and wrong-doing with only two staff members not heeding the request – Crofton Hannibal and Cecil Frederick.

Over the years, staffers at PPU have been constantly accused of doing architectural drawings for projects and taking part in the approval process for a fee from persons who submitted applications for construction projects.

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