ATTORNEYS representing Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings are “setting the record straight” and have denied he is involved in any police investigation, saying he rejects the claims as “lies”.
Following media reports that the home of a government minister was searched last week, rumours circulated on social media, hinting that it was Cummings who was the target of police investigations.
Earlier last week, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith denied that a government official’s home had been searched but the speculation that it was Cummings persisted.
In a media release on Saturday, attorneys Asha Watkins-Montserin and Keisha Kydd-Hannibal sought to set the record straight amidst the “plethora of misinformation, malicious and downright untruths.”
The statement added: “Minister Cummings is cognizant that as a holder of public office, attacks are inevitable, however he is also a firm believer in rejecting lies and mischief aimed at him. There has been no police search of his home or any property in which he may have an interest. It must be underscored that the Honourable Minister has not been contacted or questioned relative to any police investigation or matter.”
The attorneys added there is a need to end the lies and attempts to malign the character of the La Horquetta/Talparo MP.
“The rumours being perpetuated are false, misleading and are evidently designed by others to attempt to damage his reputation. Notwithstanding, Minister Cummings remains committed to serving his country, his constituents and his Ministry with unwavering dedication despite these unfounded lies. The Minister rebukes these attempts to malign his character. Furthermore, he has not been informed that he is the subject of any investigation by the police or any other authorities.”
This is not the first time Cummings had to respond to claims of a connection to people under police investigation. Last year, there were reports he was connected to Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) founder lance corporal Kerron Clarke. Sunday Newsday interviewed Cummings two weeks ago and raised the issue. Asked about his alleged relationship with Clarke, Cummings said there is none, adding that it was all part of a smear campaign after he won his seat in the August 2020 election. Clarke has been charged for two offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was under investigation for a pyramid-type scheme with $22 million being seized from his home in La Horquetta. However, the money was returned, after which there was another seizure of $7.7 million which remains in police custody. The scheme even led the Prime Minister to express concern calling it “a cancer”.
The Prime Minister did not respond when asked for a comment on the statement from Cummings’ lawyers at the covid19 media conference on Saturday.
In an unrelated matter, Cummings’ company Pical Services Ltd was contracted through selective tendering to demolish the old Besson Street Police Station for $455,625 VAT inclusive. Sunday Newsday was informed that a man from East Port Spain, identified by police as a gangster was part of the demolition with authority to hire and fire workers. Asked about his connection to the man, Cummings said: “The company I founded, tendered and was awarded that contract in 2019, however I ceased involvement in the operations of that business since 2015. By the time of that project, I was no longer a director. Based on your question, I have made enquiries and I can confidently respond that this project was heavily mechanised and required little manual labour input. Members of the TTPS were used throughout the duration of that project to maintain law and order.”
La Horquetta has been one of the communities plagued with gun violence for years. Speaking with the Sunday Newsday at his Phase 1, La Horquetta constituency office, on July 6, Cummings said he decided to place his office there as a “proverbial bridge” to bring the community together.
Cummings said while the stigma may still be attached, La Horquetta has had no recent gang activity, a claim supported by the police from the policing district who saw a reduction in gun violence in the area.
The father of seven said he could not point to any one thing that caused the crime rate to decline in the area but was thankful that the approach in dealing with the challenges faced by the constituency bore fruit.