STRINGENT: Those who commit financial fraud, or even delay EMIs on loans or have credit card overdues, are promptly sent to jail in Dubai. The Lemos couple, who allegedly defrauded more than 500 Goans and others, have been sentenced to 500 years of prison, one year for every complainant
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when more mining companies sacked their staff. For a Saturday when Dubai showed how financial crimes should be handled. For a Saturday following the week when the blame games on the organ harvesting and transplant intensified. For a Saturday following the week when the increase in taxes in the budget for financial year 2018-19 started biting. For a Saturday following the week when there continued to be no governance in the state.
And a few stray thoughts on more mining companies sacking their staff. It began with Sesa Goa, which is now Vedanta, asking all 2,000 of their permanent staff not to report to work. This was followed by Fomento, the second largest mining group in Goa dismissing staff working in their mines.
The latest to say goodbye to their administrative staff are the Chowgules. The smaller mining companies like Damodar Mangalji were among the first to stop paying salaries to the staff in their mining divisions. This refers only to the administrative staff and the section of the managerial staff including mining engineers.
In fact, since the suspension of mining over a decade ago, there has been so much panic that no students are opting for the mining engineering course in the various engineering colleges including the government engineering colleges. The total numbers rendered unemployed only on the administrative side directly employed by mining companies could range from 30 to 40,000.
This does not include the lakhs dependent on mining in other ways. The mining-dependents include the truck owners and truck drivers, the barge owners, the suppliers of mining equipment and the specialised labour employed to manage them. And of course the thousands of garages and tire repair shops and restaurants and chai and pakodawalas who used to depend on mining.
Agriculture cannot be an alternative to absorb and estimated two lakhs individuals affected by mining. Except that of the two lakhs, probably less than 50% are Goans as the majority of the truck drivers and those employed on the barges and garages were mostly migrants.
The government of Goa succeeded in getting a brief reprieve with the Supreme Court striking down the High Court order banning the shipment of ore lying at the jetties which has been extracted before the March 13 deadline. But it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will oblige them again in respect of the estimated 9 million tonnes of ore that has been extracted in industrial mines within the mining areas.
And a few stray thoughts on the Goan couple Sydney Lemos and his wife, Valany Cardozo swindling not only Goans, but people from all over the country, particularly those who working for airlines, of total of over 500 million dollars.
The couple opened a Forex firm in Dubai and promised a return of 12% a month or 120% a year to those who invested in the firm. Forex firms make money by trading in foreign exchange by buying currencies cheap and selling them when their rates go up. The Lemos’ claimed that they had developed a special software which enable them to consistently anticipate fluctuation in currency rates and make a killing.
Like all Ponzi schemes, the investors got some benefits in the beginning. Many of them were foolish enough to reinvest the income in the con.
Caught in the middle is one of their accountants, Ryan De Souza, whom it is claimed worked for them for only four months. There is a section of the Goan population which claims he was innocent.
Like all conmen ranging from Vijai Mallya to Nirav Modi. the Lemos couple put on an act, living a grand lifestyle. Their most pathetic victims were young football players. The couple recruited young footballers from Goa for their football team Bardez FC in the Gulf. The players, some of who were semi-literate and not even tenth standard pass, were given fancy posts such as HR Manager, Chief Accountant etc. They were told to always wear suits to impress customers.
Their victims were picked from the lavish parties that the couple used to organise at which their employees had to be present. Maybe the presence of young football players fooled Goans and others into thinking that the Lemos’ were running a legitimate business.
Shockingly, Sydney Lemos was even one of the main sponsors of Goa FC professional football team when it was taken over by Jaidev Modi, the casino king. There are photographs of Lemos with many football legends.
The most significant part of the story is that unlike in India and in Goa where they would have escaped with the loot, Sidney Lemos, the husband, and Ryan De Souza, the accountant, were not only arrested but sentenced to 500 years in prison — one year for every complaint filed.
The rules on any kind of financial hera pheri are very strict in the Gulf countries. You can get loans very easily from the banks for buying cars and other consumer durables at very low rates of interest.
As in India before the banking crisis, banks also used to distribute credits and debit cards very generously without checking the credit worthiness of the person. There were literally no KYC norms. But in Dubai, if you fail to pay a single EMI or delay paying your credit card dues beyond the prescribed period, they immediately send you to jail. I know of a journalistic colleague in Herald who was very good at his job, who was constantly in jail in Dubai because his wife believed in living beyond their means.
If Modi and Jaitley adopted the strict financial laws of the Gulf nobody would dare to cheat banks and financial institutions. But what do you do when the police or regulators themselves turn out to be thieves. As in the case of the Punjab national bank where a deputy GM manage to cheat his employer of `11,000 crore for the benefit of Nirav Modi. The fair sex is not necessarily more honest than the males as dramatized by the fact that two top women executives of ICICI bank and Axis bank are under investigation for golmaal.
ORGAN BLAME GAME
And a few stray thoughts on the continuing blame game on the organ harvesting and hijacking by Manipal Hospital. The Dean of the GMC and other doctors have asserted that the GMC is the only centre in the state which is authorised not only for transplants but even for harvesting organs.
Manipal, which harvested the organs and send them to a private hospital called Global in Bombay, was not authorised even to harvest the organs. According to protocol, Manipal hospital was required to send the patient on a ventilator to the GMC. What happened in this case was that Dr Shekar Salkar the medical doctor of Manipal hospital misused and abused his closeness to Parrikar and the BJP to make an ullu of a senior official namely Health Secretary Ashok Kumar. Dr Salkar is alleged to have told Ashok Kumar that it was an emergency and immediate sanction was needed. Ashok Kumar, the health secretary, who was not aware of the rules and knew that Dr Salkar was Manohar Parrikar’s close friend, granted prompt permission without thinking of the consequences. Salkar even misused the police to create a green corridor to ensure that the harvested organs reach the airport and the help of the Navy to give them priority clearance to take them to Mumbai.
Contrary to the claims of Dr Shekar Salkar, Dr Tiwari, the nephrologist (kidney specialist) in the GMC, has been doing kidney transplants for over two decades with assistance from Dr Madhumohan, the urologist who was earlier working in Manipal and other specialists in GMC.
The fight has taken a personal turn because Madhumohan no longer works for Manipal and is one of the founders of Healthway. Madhumohan has become totally anti Manipal and it is suspected that he is the primary source of all the news items on the great organ robbery by Manipal and Dr Shekar Salkar which appeared most surprisingly in Navhind Times which rarely carries controversial story. Maybe Sriniwas Dempo is upset over being conned into renewing the lease of the Goa Cancer Society, which is the land on which the Manipal hospital is.
Dr Tiwari, who is the HOD of Nephrology, is a very quiet person who has received little support from the GMC. Unfortunately the Dean has been stripped of all authority by Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.
Not only should be the harvesting of the organs been done in the GMC, but the harvested organs particularly the cornea and the kidneys should have been used for the long waiting list of patients in the GMC. Most of the transplants that have taken place so far are from donors who have been mostly female like wives and mothers in the case of kidney transplants.
A brief explanation of the phrase brain dead may not be out of place. Brain dead means dead although the heart may continue to beat and you may seem alive if you are kept on a ventilator. Unlike the common belief it is not the heart which is a seat of emotions but the brain. If you fall in love or fall out of love and start hating the person you love it is because of the brain and not the heart which is just a pump. All senses like sight, hearing, smell and emotions are controlled by the brain. All organs are controlled ultimately by the brain. So if the brain is totally damaged in an accident, even though the heart may continue to beat and the patient may continue to breathe because of the ventilator for some time, his other organs will shut down.
Brain dead should not be confused with comas or even a permanent vegetative state. People can recover from a coma and a person in a permanent vegetative state (PVS) can live for years on a ventilator.
There are even cases like that of the former St Andre MLA Vishu Wagh who people believed to be brain dead, but who came out of coma and has shown major signs of recovery after treatment of over a year. Except that only crorepathis, or those whose bills are paid by the government, can afford to keep a person in a coma or in a PVS technically alive for a long period of time. In the case of former union minister, Priyaranjan Das (Congress) he was “kept alive” for almost 15 years in a coma.
Getting back to organ harvesting in Goa, perhaps the more important lesson is that if you decide to donate your body or your organs to benefit fellow Goans after you are dead, make sure that you specify they should be given to the GMC and that any parts harvested must be used, as far as possible, only for the benefit for poor patients in the GMC.
And a few stray thoughts on the taxes that have started taking effect after the start of the new financial year. The worst affected are people who are dependent on Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte, TCP Minister Vijai Sardesai, PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar, and Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza.
Coming to the Revenue Department first, Form I & XIV which indicate the location and the ownership of the plot of land you own, or on which your housing society is built, will now cost three times more. The increase in price for a copy of the form is from `15 to 45. If you want to check if your property is registered, and forms part of the land survey you have to pay five time more as the rate has been increased from `10 to `50.
Charges for partition and conversion from agriculture settlement etc have been doubled. Fines for traffic offenses have been increased by a very large extent. Moreover policemen have been told that they have to challan at least 35 persons every day. There was a move to increase the electricity charges steeply for all categories. The hike for the lowest categories of upto 100 KV has been scrapped following loud protest. But industries and large consumers of power will have to pay me. Water charges have also been increased.
Parrikar during his first tenure as chief minister had scrapped the VAT on petrol altogether, making Goa the cheapest state in the country for petrol. Parsekar restored the VAT to 18% with the condition that the duty will be reduced if the petrol prices increased beyond `60. The petrol and diesel price is now linked to the international crude price and changes on a daily basis.
Parrikar has forgotten even the promise of keeping the petrol price in Goa at less than `60 with the prevailing price being the same as the rest of the country. At about `70 per litre, petrol has never been so expensive in Goa. This affects every Goan because the majority of Goa families and even that of migrants have at least one bike or more, not for style but because public transport is so expensive in Goa.
And a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. It has been almost two months since Parrikar left for treatment to the Sloan Kettering Institute for his pancreatic problem. Ever since, there has been no governance in Goa.
Parrikar constituted a cabinet advisory committee (CAC) consisting of Francis D’Souza, Sudin Dhavalikar and Vijai Sardesai. The term of the committee was till March 31. It was extended till April end. Nobody is clear whether it will be extended further since there is no indication when Parrikar will return. But even the CAC has no executive powers. Francis D’Souza has admitted that the committee can only make recommendations.
It is for Parrikar sitting in New York to decide. The worst effect is that no finance is available for any projects. Nor can any payment be made for any completed projects. The state is in a stage of total stagnation. Nobody knows what to do as no monitor has the power to decide anything. Since Parrikar controlled home, finance, education, and all the important departments, ‘train Goa’ is at a standstill — unable to move out of Karmali station.