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Tuesday 11 December 2018
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PM to sue over corruption claim

A plot to defame me

PM Dr Keith Rowley

Photo: Sureash Cholai
PM Dr Keith Rowley Photo: Sureash Cholai

THE Prime Minister flatly denied Opposition claims that he has a dubious Miami bank account, and has asked the police and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to investigate the allegations. He has also instructed the Attorney General to seek information from authorities in Miami under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

Dr Rowley held a news briefing at Parliament yesterday, accompanied by several top ministers including AG Faris Al-Rawi, plus the PM’s attorney Michael Quamina.

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, in the House of Representatives budget debate on Tuesday night, claimed to have a bank document and an e-mail showing Rowley held a joint account with one Vidya Deokiesingh – the same name as a former Petrotrin employee fired over the AV Drilling “fake oil” scandal. Quamina said while Moonilal’s remarks on Tuesday night were protected by parliamentary privilege, the MP’s subsequent posts on Facebook could expose him to liability for libel. Quamina also vowed legal action against people he dubbed “paid bloggers” who repeat the allegations online.

Rowley said the allegations were “a monstrous lie” and “a fabrication” by someone allegedly intent on destroying his character.
“I have transacted no business in Florida with any person. I have no banking relationship with anyone in Florida.”
Saying he was running a government based on the principle of morality in public affairs, he said corruption is a heinous crime that violated the oath of office he took.

He said he is asking Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to direct the relevant arm of the police to investigate the allegations as a matter of urgency, as well as the FIU.
While the FIU investigates in secrecy, Rowley said he wants his business to be made public, insisting, “The outcome ought to be made known to the public.”

At midday yesterday, CoP Gary Griffith told Newsday, “I have not received any correspondence on this matter from the Prime Minister.” Rowley and Quamina queried two “documents” cited by Moonilal. Quamina alleged Moonilal had cited bank account numbers as if read from a bank document, when actually they were merely cited in an e-mail that Moonilal had referred to.
“We’ll be pursuing all avenues to show how false this contribution was,” Quamina said.
The PM later, in a personal statement in the House, rejected Moonilal’s remarks as an attempt to defame him by “spurious and wholly untrue allegations.”

Recalling Moonilal’s effort to link him to AV Drilling, the PM said, “Even though the member ran from what he initially said, and withdrew, the damage and harm that he intended to cause in a most malicious manner was already done.
He said Moonilal gave the House no document to back his allegations, yet soon after, defamatory documents were broadcast.

“What the member did was carefully, intentionally and maliciously calculated to defame me, damage me and my reputation.
“He imputed impropriety to me and provided only bogus documents. This is unacceptable and cannot be left unchallenged.”

“I have no bank account in Miami, USA. I was not party to any banking transaction with Mr Deokiesingh, Formula One Trading or any person or persons with respect to any bank in Florida, the United States, or any bank in the world, for that matter.”

Rowley said he had instructed his attorneys to write to the Regions Bank of Doral, Florida to get its confirmation he had never banked with it. He said he once held an account in New York to change travellers’ cheques, but did not know if it is still active.
Rowley said an e-mail address being attributed to him, jrowley.rawlins@gmail.com, is not his.

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