ON the heels of a revelation that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) flagged a credit union for a $4.4 million deposit bearing the name of government minister Foster Cummings, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar renewed her call for Cummings to be fired.
“Foster has to go. You can no longer protect him,” Persad-Bissessar challenged the Prime Minister at the United National Congress (UNC) Monday night forum.
The UNC has made a number of claims about the involvement of the Minister of Youth Development and National Service in business and land acquisition and contracts, which became the subject of a Special Branch investigation.
He has denied the allegations and has received the support of his political leader and Prime Minister.
On the UNC platform, Persad-Bissessar read excerpts published in Monday’s edition of the Express newspaper of the suspicious financial activity and referred to related court documents.
Persad-Bissessar said when the FIU makes a report it is sent to the Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB) of the police for further investigation.
“When you do this under the Proceeds of Crime Act, it is for two crimes – trafficking or money laundering. So is this investigation is about money laundering or trafficking? I don’t know. Tell us.”
Acknowledging Cummings' explanation that he is no longer involved in the companies identified – Rivulet Investment Group Ltd, Cummings and Associates Ltd and Pical Services Ltd – Persad-Bissessar said that compounded the situation, and posed a series of questions.
Cummings reportedly said he had received a number of business loans, as a credit union cannot lend money to a company, but to individuals. He denied there was one loan of $4.4 million.
But Persad-Bissessar asked, “Man, if you are no longer in business, what is $4.4 million doing in your account?
“Why did you deposit it in your account? Where you got it from? Where did you get it, if you are no longer in business?”
She claimed, “It did not go into the account of Pical. It did not go into the account of Cummings and Associates. It did not go into Rivulet Investment. It went into the account of Foster Cummings, when he was sitting as a government minister.
“He is still sitting there. He is still sitting in the Cabinet when you have a serious police investigation into where this money came from and how and why.”
Speaking to TV6 on Monday, Cummings dismissed the opposition claims as political mischief. He said they were just baseless allegations, and people were taking “half-truths and adding their own spin to it to create a scenario.”
He asked where was the evidence to support those allegations, reiterating that all the transactions were above board.
“They were business transactions that occurred prior to me becoming a government minister and therefore all the required procedures were followed."
Insisting they were dated 2021, Persad-Bissessar questioned whether the transaction is still active and if the police investigation into Cummings is active.
“If it is a live TTPS investigation, then Foster must leave the Cabinet. He must be fired. Foster must go, he must go. He must go now.”