TRINIDAD – Probing the PM
Investigation launched following Warner’s allegations
PORT OF SPAIN –– The allegations made by Jack Warner that he witnessed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar accepting $8.3 million from party financiers Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson as an incentive to win their freedom through Section 34 , has been referred to the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the Police Service.
Confirmation that an investigation has been launched, came today from head of corporate communications at the TTPS, Ellen Lewis.
“I can confirm that the commissioner of police did in fact receive correspondence from Mr Jack Warner yesterday, July 29, and the matter has been referred to the Anti-Corruption Bureau for investigation,” Lewis stated in a text message.
Warner made the claims at a news conference at the Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s, on July 13.
He read from a sworn statement witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, saying: “In the run-up to the general election of May, 2010, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar held several discussions with me on how we can assist Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson since she felt that they were both instrumental in removing the PNM [People’s National Movement] from office in 1995 and had been poorly treated by the [Patrick] Manning administration.
“In the run-up to the May 2010 general election, several meetings were also held with Ish Galbaransingh, Steve Ferguson and Mrs Persad-Bissessar, at some of which meetings, I was present. In one of those meetings, which was held at the Gopaul’s residence in Tunapuna and at which I was present, Mr Galbaransingh and Mr Ferguson handed over to Mrs Persad-Bissessar a number of cheques totalling $8.3 million.”
Persad-Bissessar responded within hours, saying the allegations were false and without foundation, and that her lawyers would be taking action “to stop this malicious misinformation once and for all”.
The Express knows of no legal action taken in response to Warner’s claims.
Confirmation of the investigation in the Warner claims came a day after Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley questioned why Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams had not acted in the matter.
Speaking at a PNM campaign meeting in San Fernando, Rowley said: “I want to want to ask the commissioner of police tonight, since when you could turn a blind eye when a crime has been reported. When a person is prepared to go on an affidavit and say I have been a witness to crime [and] based on what you have heard about a conspiracy that took place. Why has the commissioner of police not initiated an investigation into the conduct of [the prime minister] to explain Section 34. Is it that he has taken a position it is not true?”
He also asked why the Integrity Commission, having heard Warner’s claims, had not initiated an investigation.
Rowley also claimed that the Section 34 clause in the Administration Of Justice Bill was inserted “through subterfuge and deceit”, and by the time it was repealed, it had served its purpose, which was to benefit Galbaransingh and Ferguson.
Persad-Bissessar had described the Jack Warner revelations as “a damp squib littered with lies and more lies”.
She stated: “I am responding at the earliest opportunity in the hope this will ensure that these outrageous claims by Warner are treated with the contempt they deserve. Let me state very clearly and unequivocally that these accusations are false and without any foundation whatsoever.
“I hope that observers will by now have noted the pattern of increasingly far-fetched claims being made by this man and how quickly each set of his claims unravels once the facts are known. Everybody knows his present plight and why he is becoming so desperate. He is a stranger to the truth.
“The record shows that Mr Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, presiding in the Port of Spain High Court, stayed in November, 2011, any move to have Galbaransingh and Ferguson extradited as being ‘unjust, oppressive and unlawful. This was well before the proclamation of Section 34 [in fact, almost
one year before]. So that claim of a connection is as others absolute nonsense’.
“Section 34 was passed unanimously by all sides of the House in 2012. It was subsequently repealed within 24 hours of receiving advice from the DPP to do so. As I stated at the time, I dealt with minister as I needed to do. He had given erroneous advice to the cabinet and had failed to accurately represent the position and views of the CJ and DPP. It gave me no pleasure to dismiss him but all ministers in my government are accountable and when tough decisions have needed to be taken, I have taken them.
“Further I gave no instructions to the AG to sign the extradition of Mr Warner. In fact nothing has been signed by the AG to date. Another lie.
“Let Mr Warner take his allegations to the Integrity Commission as he and others have done before and for which I have been cleared on every occasion. Let him take his allegations to the police with the evidence he claims to have . . . . I have asked my lawyers to review today’s Press conference and take the requisite action to stop this malicious misinformation once and for all.
“I don’t intend to waste any more time on Mr Warner’s ludicrous behaviour and crazy claims. I have a duty to the people of Trinidad and Tobago to lead this country and work tirelessly on their behalf. I remain focused on the issues that really matter and doing everything I can to improve the lives of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I trust Mr Warner’s desperate and fallacious claims will be treated with the derision they deserve by the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”