IN the continuing saga of human trafficking allegations surrounding the United National Congress (UNC), one of its former ministers, Dr Devant Maharaj, has indicated his willingness to spill all he knows to the police, against his former colleagues.
CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher has ordered a probe into allegations Maharaj has placed in the public domain, after a 2022 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons report referred to senior government officials’ involvement in this illicit trade.
The Prime Minister has distanced his members from the allegations, while pointing fingers at the Opposition.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Thursday welcomed the investigation, while condemning human trafficking as a vile scourge and evil in society.
She said all those who enable it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, advising the police should extend their investigation into media houses that may be enabling human trafficking and to paedophile allegations contained in both the Sabga and Judit Jones reports.
US Ambassador Candace Bond has clarified that the term “senior officials,” as identified in the report, refers to anyone who works for the government, including elected officials.
Maharaj confirmed Dr Rowley’s claims, referring to a probe at the Public Transport Services Corporation (PTSC), for which he had responsibility as Transport Minister, based on an article published in the TT Mirror on February 10, 2012, bearing the caption “Govt Sex Ring.”
He said the allegations proved true and correct, asserting he personally assisted in an internal investigation from which useful information was gleaned. He said the description of an offender fitted that of a senior state official.
He went so far as to confirm that “particular individuals who now hold high office in the party, on a regular basis provided a regular supply of Venezuelan and Colombian prostitutes to persons within and without the party.”
Both Maharaj and another former minister, Vasant Bharath, said they were offered, but refused the service.
Maharaj told the Newsday the head of the Human Trafficking Task Force has contacted with him, after Christopher’s order of a probe and appointing a special team to investigate the matter.
Maharaj said the task force head wanted to ascertain his willingness to give information to the police about statements he had made and which are now in the public domain about the involvement of his former colleagues during the period of the People’s Partnership (PP) administration.
“Sen Supt Pamponette indicated that an officer would be connecting with me shortly to get a statement. I indicated my willingness to assist with the Task Force fully,” he said via WhatsApp message on Thursday.
Maharaj was also critical of his former political associates, accusing them of posting pictures of him with a former girlfriend.
“How low can the UNC go?” he asked, pointing out, “In a crass and crude attempt to discredit me and what I have been saying about persons involved in prostitution and human trafficking who have found safe haven in the UNC, a photo of me and my ex-girlfriend has been circulating.”
He denied that his ex-fiancee is 14 and of Venezuelan nationality.
He said she is of East Indian descent, 40 years old and the CEO of a fashion business.