Energy Minister Arrested on Bribery Charges

Trinidad & Tobago's energy minister Eric Williams was arrested on Monday on seven charges of receiving bribes totaling 75,000 Trinidad & Tobago dollars (US$11,960), a ministry source told BNamericas, confirming a report in local newspaper Trinidad Guardian.

Williams is charged with accepting the bribes in 2003 in exchange for awarding local oil exploration company Geoseis Services a seismic contract at Point Galeota in southeast Trinidad, the paper reported.

Williams resigned from his position on Monday and was released on bail the following day for a sum of 600,000 Trinidad & Tobago dollars, the paper reported.

The bribes were allegedly received from Dansam Dhansook, PNM party councilor and owner of Geoseis.

The charges carry fines up to 500,000 Trinidad & Tobago dollars and a 10-year jail term upon conviction, the paper reported.

Williams' former cabinet colleague Franklin Khan was also charged with six counts of misbehavior in public office last November for allegedly receiving bribes for the same seismic contract.

The charges against Khan arose after Dhansook told prime minister Patrick Manning in a letter in February 2004 that he had paid bribes to both Khan and Williams in exchange for the contract. Manning then forwarded the allegations to the national integrity commission, the paper reported.

The prime minister is expected to appoint a new energy minister within the next few days, the ministry source said.

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