Imbert to appeal judge's ruling

Finance Minister Colm Imbert
Finance Minister Colm Imbert

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert says he will appeal the ruling of a High Court judge that he acted unlawfully and irrationally by refusing to recommend an acting commissioner to the post of commissioner of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR).

He gave this undertaking during his wrapping up of the budget debate in the House of Representatives late on Tuesday afternoon.

Saying it was unfortunate the court case was brought into the debate by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Imbert accused that opposition MP of misrepresenting the facts, misquoting, distorting and manipulating the truth when he spoke about the case during his (Moonilal) earlier contribution to the debate.

Saying while it was better to await the outcome of an appeal of the judge's ruling against him, Imbert said he wanted to clear the air on an important matter since it was brought into the public domain by Moonilal.

Imbert said it was recently determined that it fell to the Finance Minister to make recommendations to Cabinet on the appointment of a BIR commissioner, "when for some reason, for many years, it was assumed wrongly that it was the responsibility of the Public Service.

"This responsibility fell to me recently madam speaker because the substantive (BIR) chairman had retired. There was need therefore for me to invoke a process to arrive at a decision to give to Cabinet."

Imbert said he sought the advice of Senior Counsel and was told to look at the top four senior positions in the BIR and to interview the four office holders, before determining who should be BIR chairman.

"One of the persons was under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Inland Revenue Division, for alleged tax fraud. I drew this to the attention of that person and asked if they were aware of the investigation. I did so."

Imbert said it was established that there was an investigation and this person had been interviewed for alleged tax fraud.

"I found myself unable to recommend that person and I was taken to court. I was told my decision not to recommend that particular person was irrational. The judge ruled I should have given the person an opportunity to explain themselves. That (the judge's ruling) will be tested by the Court of Appeal."

Imbert added that knowing what he knew at the time, "I would have been out of my mind," to recommend that person to the top post in Government's revenue collecting authority.


"Imbert to appeal judge’s ruling"

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