An internal investigation has been launched at the Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) to determine how payment of almost a quarter-million dollars was made to the Chief Executive Officer Keith Eddy and Corporate Secretary Nicole Gopaulsingh on August 14, 2020.
The payments of $135,000 to Eddy and $92,935.31 to Gopaulsingh were made to their accounts four days after the August 10 General Election.
Guardian Media has copies of the transactions and the figures represent the major increases in salaries for the two that were approved by the CEPEP board in 2019 but only paid in August, 2020.
The records show that Eddy was paid $180,000, representing increments of $21,500 per month for eight months of increased base salary and $8,000 for the eight months of increased entertainment allowance. However, when 25 per cent in taxes were deducted the sum of $135,000 was forwarded to his bank account. Similarly, Gopaulsingh received eight months of increments and increased allowances minus taxes that worked out to $92,935.31.
Both Eddy and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein spoke to Guardian Media yesterday but were not prepared to go on the record. However, sources at the company claim the payments have since been reversed.
The documents showing the payments come even as CEPEP chairman Marilyn Michael categorically denied any payment was made to the duo or that Eddy had even received a salary increase.
On Saturday, Michael said, “Mr Eddy’s salary has not been increased. I stand here in a very positive way, well informed, this is not me speculating or saying maybe or maybe not. I am speaking from an informative position that Mr Eddy’s salary has not been increased.”
Asked if all the documents in Guardian Media’s possession were fake, she said: “You don’t have to put that. You can simply say the chairman is not aware of any increases.”
Michael said the salaries could not possibly have been increased and she did not know of it. She called it “mischief,” adding somebody had an objective.”
“I am not aware of any increase for Mr Eddy. I know that was a conversation but it has not gone anywhere in the light of being approved, even though I want to say to you that a board can make a recommendation but it doesn’t mean, I am not saying a recommendation was or was not made, I am saying it does not mean that it is an approved recommendation, it has to go, as you would rightly know, to the line ministry and also to Ministry of Finance. The board does not have that authorisation to just increase somebody’s salary,” Michael said.
On Sunday, however, CEPEP put out a press release in which it effectively refuted what its chairman said by confirming that the board, which is chaired by Michael, had in fact approved the increases for Eddy and Gopaulsingh.
The release read: “The CEPEP board of directors approved salary increases in November of the year 2019 and is currently awaiting the approval of the HR committee and the Chief Personnel Officer.”
In November, the CEPEP board agreed to raise Eddy’s salary to a whopping $65,000 a month and weeks before the August 10 election, changed his contract to add a year to it.
Documents provided to Guardian Media by whistleblowers in CEPEP and the Ministry of Finance point to both increases in salaries and redoing contracts for some employees just as the August 10 election approached.
In a memorandum dated November 28, 2019, CEPEP Corporate Secretary Gopaulsingh wrote to the company’s Senior Human Resource Officer Willa Guy-Straker indicating that at a meeting of the board on November 28, 2019, it was “resolved to amend the organisational structure.”