LEADER of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah is calling on Government to establish a special prosecutor to deal with issues of corruption in public office.
Addressing a news conference at his party’s San Fernando headquarters yesterday, Abdulah took issue with the appointment of businessman Christian Mouttet by the prime minister to investigate the ferry fiasco. He described the appointment as “spectacular failure.”
“He (Mouttet) has absolutely no power to investigate anything,” Abdulah said. “He has no legal authority to summon anybody as a witness, to get any documents, to go into any office and take away computers, to access email information.”
He told reporters commissions of inquiry over the years have failed to bring perpetrators to justice.
“So that it is clear to see nobody does the time in Trinidad and Tobago,” Abdullah said, adding that when a commission of inquiry is appointed it takes weeks and months to be completed in addition to the enormous costs to the taxpayers. He said the only people who benefit from this are the lawyers who are hired to investigate these matters.
Abdulah said it makes no sense reporting matters to the police since they have a track record of zero per cent of success with respect to investigating white collar crime.
He cited the 2015 matter in which former attorney general Anand Ramlogan is being investigated for witness tampering with regard to Police Complaints Authority director David West and, two years later, the police were only now seeking to question Ramlogan.
He listed “prisongate” and “emailgate” as issues which had been dragging on in the public domain with no end in sight. Abdulah also cited the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which makes reports of suspicious transactions amounting to billions of dollars in corruption and money laundering and so on.
“Not a single person has been reported as a result of the FIU reports,” he said, adding that this unit provided information to the police service and they had not been able to bring prosecution or closure to any of these matters.
In light of the failure of these institutions, Abdulah is proposing that Government establish special prosecutors who would have sole responsibility for managing the gathering of evidence with respect to white-collar crime and corruption.
A special prosecutors office, according to Abdulah, should be equipped with well-trained police officers and be given a budget to hire international forensic investigators or auditors who knew how to “follow the money” across Trinidad and Tobago or wherever the money might end up.
He recalled that this method was not new to this country saying the late Desmond Allum was appointed as a special prosecutor and he had made headway with regard to the Scott drug inquiry where charges were brought against former commissioner of police Randolph Boroughs.
He also said that another special prosecutor was Karl Hudson Phillips who dealt with the Piarco Airport project and this led to people in the US being arrested and made to serve time. In this case, money was recovered and returned to T&T because of this special prosecutor.