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Saturday 21 September 2019
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Officials blame bank delays for late filings

Integrity Commission still waiting for errant income declarations

Dr Varma Deyalsingh
Dr Varma Deyalsingh

BANK delays and busy lives were two of the reasons cited by some public figures flagged by the Integrity Commission for not filing declarations of income, assets and liabilities for 2017.

In a notice published in a local newspaper on Wednesday, hundreds of public figures were listed for not filing including government ministers, senators, mayors and heads of boards.

Social Development Minister Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn told Newsday her documents were filed on Wednesday.

“It was an oversight on my part. It was prepared,” she said

Public Administration Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Maxie Cuffie said in 2017 he was in the US for medical attention after a stroke.

“I am addressing that matter with the Integrity Commission,” he said.

Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe said he was given an extension to July 31, 2019 and he was waiting for two or three more documents from the bank.

“It is basically completed and should be filed Monday.”

He said obtaining documents from banks could take a little time, but he would not make it an excuse.

“It is the law and I intend to comply as best as I can.”

Independent Senator Varma Deyalsingh said his delay in filing was due to a combination of factors, including business and health issues.

“I have to sit down, put my head down and do it on time. There is information I have to collect and I just have to do it as quickly as possible.”

Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez said his documents were with the accountant and should have been filed already.

“I do not know what the hold-up is. I have to check if we got all the documents from the bank.”

Asked if there were issues in getting documents from the bank he replied the exercise was a difficult one, especially when documentation had to be obtained for the whole family.

“Not that we don’t want to file the documents, but it is a tedious process. It is a lot of information to present.”

He said it was difficult to “run down documents” for yourself when doing so many things and always being in meetings.

Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian said she wrote a letter last week asking for a little more time.

“I just did not get it together yet. It is almost finished. I am usually much more prompt.”

She added: “I see the importance of the exercise, and I will do better in the future.”

Former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority Ramesh Lutchmedial said one of the problems was the difficulty in getting documents from financial institutions like banks. In his case he said there was an account that was closed before 2005, and the commission wanted to get the exact date the account was closed and the amount in it when it was closed. He recalled he went to the bank and was told it did not have records extending that far back, and the commission instructed him to write a letter requesting that information in writing.

Lutchmedial said some institutions could take up to six months to provide documents and suggested an amendment to require financial institutions to provide documents within a stipulated time.

PanTrinbago president Beverly Ramsay Moore said she was appointed to the National Carnival Commission (NCC) board in late 2017. She said she received documentation three months ago and was in the process of getting the particulars together.

“I’m new to it and I’m getting it done.” Former sports minister Gary Hunt, who was flagged for InvesTT, said he resigned from the board on June 2, 2017.

Others named for failing to file for 2017 include ministers Anthony Garcia (Education), Clarence Rambharat (Agriculture), Franklin Khan (Energy); Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West, Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds, Diego Martin Central MP Darryl Smith, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, THA Minority Leader Watson Duke, former UNC senators Wayne Sturge and Jearlean John, former independent senator Clive Dottin, Point Fortin mayor Abdon Mason, former Port Authority chairman Christine Sahadeo, NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters and Children’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin.

There were also two public figures flagged for 2015 and seven for 2016.

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