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DiLollo’s resignation curious—Maharaj
CEO of Plane Sciences Inc Mike Poole has denied that Michael DiLollo, a Canadian national who recently resigned as chief executive officer of Caribbean Airlines (CAL), helped his Canadian-based firm secure a flight data analysis (FDA) contract from the cash-strapped airline.
Transparency watchdog Disclosure Today (DT) has raised the red flag on a transaction involving CAL and Plane Sciences Inc, with which Dilollo was at one time associated, by issuing a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) for details of a two-year contract awarded to the Canadian firm.
Poole was responding to questions concerning the FOI request by the CEO of DT Rishi Maharaj seeking details of the contract, which DT views as a conflict of interest.
Last October, Plane Sciences Inc, which offers expertise in aviation safety, efficiency and flight data technologies, tendered to CAL for the contract which was awarded last December.
According to Plane Sciences Inc’s website, they were selected by CAL to undertake FDA services for the airline starting January 1, 2015.
Maharaj said his interest was heightened when Bloomberg.com, a reputable international business website, in outlining DiLollo’s list of career achievements, listed him as co-founder of Plane Sciences Inc, which prompted DT to file the FOI.
Maharaj said Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.
Poole: DiLollo helped Plane Sciences in setting up
On Friday the Sunday Guardian emailed Poole to find out if DiLollo was a co-founder of Plane Sciences. He replied that DiLollo “helped us in the 2011 time frame as we were setting up with respect to pursuing a training centre in Nigeria. His role was limited to advice on this specific opportunity which never panned out.”
Poole said DiLollo had “no other role beyond that nor beyond the 2011 time frame. He never received any compensation from us nor was he a director with the company.”
Yesterday, the Sunday Guardian emailed Poole again asking if DiLollo’s assistance to the company could be considered the job of co-founder, but he did not respond.
Poole contended that when the company bid on the CAL contract they “purposely had no contact at any time with Michael to avoid even the slightest perception of conflict.”
DiLollo, who collected a monthly salary of US$33,000 ($211,000), resigned from his job with immediate effect last week, citing personal reasons. The FOI request was filed 13 days before his resignation.
DiLollo had served as CEO for 17 months.
CAL’s chief financial officer Tyrone Tang has since been appointed to act as CEO following DiLollo’s departure.
Several efforts to reach DiLollo on his cell phone on Friday were unsuccessful.
Poole said he was clueless as to why DiLollo had resigned.
“I do not know why he resigned, but it would be grossly unfair to link it in any way to the assistance he kindly provided in our early development of the training market in Africa which coincided with the genesis of Plane Sciences,” he wrote.
When Poole decided to pursue the services with CAL in 2013 he said, “Michael was long since uninvolved with the company.”
He explained that the tender process was stringent and due diligence was followed.
“We bid along with several other companies and won in a very thorough, structured and well-run process by CAL. During the RFP we were able to show CAL that our expertise was world leading and we could offer them much greater value than any other company by real case examples. We have a very unique background which is hard to match in fact,” Poole stated.
He also refused to disclose the value of its first CAL contract, citing it as private information.
Poole described DiLollo as an excellent CEO, stating that his shoes would be hard to fill.
“But everyone is of course replaceable and there are many excellent professionals like him out there.
Of course it is a loss, but I am sure that CAL will find a suitable replacement.”
Ligoure: RFP rigorous and transparent
Head of CAL’s corporate communications Dionne Ligoure on Friday confirmed that “after a rigorous and transparent RFP (request for proposal) process a contract was awarded to Plane Sciences Inc,” by CAL.
She also said that whatever information was requested by DT “I am certain that the legal department is working on the responses. We are in compliance with whatever information was requested.”
Maharaj: There is still an association
Maharaj said regardless of whether DiLollo was compensated or not by the company, it could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
“From my mind, there is still an association between DiLollo and Plane Sciences some time in the past. We need to find out from CAL how was the RFP done.”
He said he found DiLollo’s resignation to be “out of the blue” and “just curious,” days after DT put in a FOI request.
Under the FOI, submitted on October 15, DT is requesting answers with regards to the nature of the procurement process utilised, who awarded the contract, the scope, value and terms of the contract and date of approval of award.
Additionally, the FOI is also requesting the names of members of the evaluation committee and award details of payments received by Plane Sciences Inc.
CAL has 30 days to respond to Maharaj.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, attorney Margaret Rose, founding director of DT, said questions had been raised about the airline’s award of the contract.
Maharaj questioned whether DiLollo had formally disassociated himself from the company and, if so, when?
He also asked if DiLollo had any continuing relationship with the business, whether he disclosed his former or existing interest in Plane Sciences Inc to the CAL board, and if he participated in the award of the contract.
DiLollo was appointed CAL CEO in May 2014 following the sudden resignation of Robert Corbie in September 2013.
In November 2014, Parliament was informed that DiLollo received a monthly salary of US$28,000 while he collected a US$5,000 housing allowance. He also received a travelling allowance of $1,600.
Then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar defended his pay packet saying this was in keeping with salaries paid to former CEOs.
In February, then finance minister Larry Howai revealed that unaudited accounts for 2014 showed that CAL made a loss of US$60 million, inclusive of its Air Jamaica operations and the airline planned to break even by 2017.
Howai also stated that a five-year strategic plan had been completed.
Who is DT
DT was founded by anti-corruption advocate and attorney Margaret Rose who took her passion for transparency and accountability in public procurement straight to cyberspace with the creation of the DT online platform.
The platform offers citizens a secure place to relay information on corruption at state bodies and state projects, as well as facilitates linkages between public interest attorneys and like-minded citizens.
During the 2015 general election DT called on political parties to reveal their financiers.
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