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Monday 9 December 2019
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PM: More corruption going to court

PM Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI
PM Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

UPDATE:

THE Prime Minister yesterday said many corruption matters will be coming to the courthouse as his administration seeks to stamp out white collar crime in TT. At the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Dr Rowley declared, “TT has a cancer It’s called corruption.” Rowley said he was no idea how corrupt the country was until after he was elected prime minister on September 7, 2015.

The PM slammed the Opposition for trying to mislead the population into believing that the Government was involved in corruption.

Focusing on the issues of procurement, secrecy and white collar crime, Rowley said, “While I might be a politician and my government is made up of politicians, we do not subscribe to the principle that all of we thief.” He said the Appeal Court’s decision on Monday to permit the Estate Management and Business Development Company to follow the money regarding alleged wrongdoing in the Caroni Roads contracts was significant.

Rowley said this is not the only corruption matter which will be coming to the courts. While some claim these matters are being dealt with in secrecy, the PM declared, “That secrecy is only temporary because at the end of the day it is all going to come out in the wash.” Expressing surprise the media was unaware of the court’s ruling and the far reaching implications of this decision, Rowley said, “Many believe the law is only applicable to the oppressed and down trodden in certain communities.”

Saying white collar crime “is as detrimental to our well-being as violent crime as we see every day,” the PM said those who believe they can commit white collar crime with impunity, “have another thought coming.” Rowley produced a Cabinet note dated December 4, 2014, to show the then People’s Partnership government breached procurement procedures in its $228 million acquisition of the TTS Nelson from the Chinese government for the Coast Guard.

He said the contract to execute the vessel’s purchase was dated July 13, 2015. The protocol of delivery and acceptance for the TTS Nelson II was signed on September 6, 2015, 24 hours before the general election. Rowley said this was in sharp contrast to the transparent manner that he briefed the population about Government’s intention to purchase two Cape Class vessel from Australia for the Coast Guard.

The PM said the Opposition was also misleading the population about confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses in contracts were “a harbinger of corruption.” Rowley explained this was standard in all government to government and commercial arrangements. He observed the PP had no issue in signing the contract to purchase the TTS Nelson II with those clauses intact. Referring to former minister Wendell Mottley being awarded the Order of the Republic of TT hours earlier, Rowley said people must see public service as honourable again not something flavoured by corruption.

Communications Minister Stuart Young said Government’s efforts to fight corruption will be bolstered by the proclamation of the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Court Act on December 1. Young said this will allow the court to properly deal with a host of corruption matters and also long standing traffic matters which create a backlog in the court system. On the latter, Young said matters could be dealt with by telephone or video-conferencing if necessary.

ORIGINAL STORY:

THE Prime Minister today declared that TT has “a cancer called corruption.” Dr Rowley made this declaration at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre.

The PM’s declaration came after the Court of Appeal ruled on Monday for the Estate Management and Business Development Company to follow the money in relation to alleged wrongdoing in relation to the Caroni Roads contract.

Rowley said this was one of many corruption matters which will be finding their way to court. “All is going to come out in the wash,” he said. The PM slammed the Opposition for trying to mislead the population about the People’s National Movement (PNM) being involved in corruption. Unlike other people and groups in TT, Rowley declared that the PNM does not subscribe to the view that “all of we thief.”

He produced a Cabinet note December 4, 2014, to show that proper procurement procedures were not followed under the then People’s Partnership government to acquire the TTS Nelson II vessel from the Chinese government for the Coast Guard. Rowley said there was no secrecy in talks to establish a Sandals resort in Tobago or acquire fast ferries and Coast Guard vessels from Australia.

Rowley said UNC MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s attempt to blame the PNM for flooding in Greenvale was an attempt to distract public attention from serious developments in court regarding corruption. The PM promised to speak to the media tomorrow at the Parliament at 11.30 am about all issues pertaining to Greenvale.

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