July 18, 2016 03:18 PM

Sasol's chemical complex in Lake Charles

Blackballing, kickbacks and “pay for play” schemes are some of the ways 12 regional trucking and construction companies describe the employment experience for contractors working on local Sasol projects, reports the Lake Charles American Press this week.

According to a lawsuit filed by the group on June 8 in 14th District Judicial Court, the companies are seeking damages and injunctive relief as a result of “unfair trade practices” by Sasol and Kent Materials, a south Louisiana trucking company. Sasol, Kent Materials and three individuals are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, according to the American Press story.
The petitioners are said to have suffered losses at the hands of the two companies in amounts ranging from $105,000 to $1.7 million. ...

The filing’s roots can be traced back to Sasol’s property buyouts in Mossville, a time the petition describes as when residents and local businesses were promised opportunities to participate in the temporary work needed for Sasol’s expansion projects.

The petition claims that dump truck operators from Mossville and Westlake committed their equipment to the project based on verbal agreements.

“Each of the Petitioners relied upon Sasol’s promises to utilize local and minority businesses in preference to non-area companies,” the petition reads.

In the filing’s section detailing financial kickbacks, Tyler Smith, an employee of Kent Materials and a defendant listed in the petition, is said to have contacted one of the petitioners in December 2014. He is accused of demanding payments from the petitioners in order for them to continue working on the project.

The petitioners claim Smith’s request fostered an environment in which companies that paid were given preferential treatment and those that didn’t were refused work.

According to the document, the issue was then brought to Mike Hayes, Sasol public affairs manager and also a defendant in the petition. Hayes is accused of being provided with audio of the arrangements of the kickbacks and “turning a deaf ear” to the companies — an action the petitioners said was followed by a “substantial effort” to keep them from receiving work opportunities.

The audio recording detailed in the petition is said to be of truck drivers talking about paying kickbacks to “Tiger.” The petition lists trucking company owner Roosevelt “Tiger” Canty as a defendant.
Read the full story here.

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