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Tuesday 12 November 2019
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STAND BY YOUR MAN

OWTU gives Kamla 48 hours to back Moonilal claims

President general of the OWTU Ancel Roget.
President general of the OWTU Ancel Roget.

OILFIELD Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget yesterday gave Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar 48 hours to say if she and the United National Congress (UNC) supports the budget debate claims by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal of underhand dealings in government’s sale of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery to the union.

If she does not publicly distance herself from Moonilal’s claims, or if she does not respond at all, Roget is threatening to “mount a major campaign” to expose corrupt practices by the United National Congress (UNC).

In his first official response to Moonilal’s damning claims made in Parliament on Tuesday, Roget said yesterday, “I call on the honourable leader of the Opposition, to state clearly what is the UNC’s position with respect to the OWTU company Patriotic Energy acquiring assets of the refinery and the port in Pointe-a-Pierre.”

“If you are for it, state it publicly, if you are against it, also let us know, don’t play games with this, but if you are against it or if you do not respond within 48 hours, the OWTU will mount such a campaign to expose more than we have already exposed, the intent and the corruption within the UNC and its attempt to get at the OWTU,” Roget said

He put Persad-Bissessar on the clock during a media conference at the OWTU’s Paramount building headquarters in San Fernando. In his contribution to the debate, Moonilal claimed to have found a paper trail showing foul play in the acquisition of the former Petrotrin refinery by the OWTU’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd.

He claimed SunStone Equity of Suriname was a major player in the scheme and said he had photographs of people “strongly resembling” Roget, MSJ leader David Abdulah and SunStone CEO and founder John Van Dyke at a table, “at a house or office somewhere,” signing documents.

He also claimed that the prime minister’s close friend and head of A&V Drilling Vidya Deokiesingh played a key role in having Van Dyke and the OWTU broker a deal which saw government sell the refinery to the union.

Yesterday, Roget showed a photo of himself, Abdulah and Van Dyke around a table and asked journalists to follow him into his office and compare that room to the one in the photo he showed.

“That picture was taken right here in this office and may I also add, it is an office he (Moonilal) knows well because when they (the UNC) were trying to get the OWTU’s support for the (People’s) partnership in the 2010 election, he Moonilal was regularly in this office. Maha neemakaram that fella,” Roget said.

“So this is the book, these are the chairs and this is the office. This is room and the table where the document was signed,” Roget said adding that the person who took the photo was OWTU general secretary Richard Lee.

Roget accused Moonilal of using the cover of parliamentary privilege to make wild assertions and tell tall tales knowing he won’t have to be held accountable.

“The Constitution needs to do something about people who go to parliament and make claims on honest, law-abiding citizens...this was just to sow seeds of discord in the minds of people.”

On allegations that SunStone is part of the union’s consortium, Roget said SunStone parted ways since last year after it was unable to provide the necessary backing required for the acquisition. Roget said the union had also paid SunStone for consultancy as part of the engagement letter which was signed between both parties last October.

In an interview from his office in Suriname on Tuesday, SunStone’s Van Dyke claimed that the OWTU is still substantial outstanding sums to him. Roget said yesterday that it was a “blatant lie” that former Petrotrin employee Vidya Deokiesingh played any role in the refinery deal adding that the union has always been opposed to farm out and lease arrangements between Petrotrin and private operators such as Deokiesingh’s A&V Drilling company. Efforts to reach Persad-Bissessar yesterday for a response proved futile as her cellphone appeared to be switched off.

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