Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday dismissed Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s allegation that he was guilty of misconduct in public office. Persad-Bissessar made the allegation at a United National Congress political meeting in Claxton Bay on Monday. She based her allegation on Rowley admitting to calling A&V Drilling and Workover Limited owner Nazim Baksh in relation to an alleged fake oil scandal at State oil company Petrotrin.
Responding to Persad-Bissessar at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Thursday, Rowley said, “I put my cards on the table.”
He reminded reporters he was in California for a medical check-up when he learnt about this issue. Reiterating that Baksh is his friend, Rowley asked, “Is it abnormal that in a situation like that, that you call and find out what is this about?”
The Prime Minister continued, “If that is what senior counsel, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is going to court with...is going to the Integrity Commission with...that I misconducted myself all I will say to that is that is why she has not distinguished herself in the legal profession.” Rowley said there are a number of occasions when Persad-Bissessar has given legal positions,”and was found to be quite wrong.”
He added, “I don’t know how and by what statute, my making a phone call to find out from somebody, what is the story I see in the paper, that is misconduct on my part.” Rowley told reporters when he made the call to Baksh, he was not, “acting in the capacity of judge and jury.” T
The Prime Minister asked, “I broke a law by calling somebody? What exactly is the misconduct?” According to Rowley, Persad-Bissessar believes, “she has all the information she needs” on this issue. However he said Petrotrin is still conducting investigations into this matter. Rowley also said subsequently to calling Baksh, he called former People’s National Movement candidate Vidia Deokiesingh, who is also alleged to have been involved in this issue. He said like Baksh, this call was to find out what happened. Deokiesingh resigned from the Lake Asphalt company as a result of the allegations against him.
Rowley said it was not for him to judge Baksh’s apology to the media or comment on whether media personnel should accept Baksh’s offer to tour his company’s premises on Thursday.