LA HORQUETTA/Talparo MP Foster Cummings says he has hired former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj to investigate who gave a Trinidad Express newspaper reporter his personal financial information.
“I say, ‘Mr Ramesh Maharaj, you and your team, pay close attention to all they are saying about Foster and when the time comes, find out where the real leak is’.”
Cummings said he took note of articles and TV news spots about him, including what had been said on the United National Congress platform. He added that “relevant letters” would be sent to members of the UNC and others, “and the police will talk to us about that.”
Speaking at a People’s National Movement town meeting at the La Horquetta/Talparo constituency office, Daisy Voisin Crescent, Phase II carpark, La Horquetta on Tuesday night, he said he will continue to serve with transparency and honesty.
“I came into politics as an established businessman, proud of what I work for, and no UNC or no UNC operative is going to try to take my name from me,” Cummings said.
Questions have been raised by a media outlet recently about a $14.5 million commercial loan granted to Cummings by Venture Credit Union in 2017.
At the town meeting, Cummings repeatedly said he was not there to talk about any bacchanal and instead wanted to focus on work in his constituency including building new homes, road repairs, repairing leaking roofs, installing box drains, the construction of community centres, programmes to encourage business development and more.
He also spoke of his work as Minister of Youth Development and National Service including the launch of A Music Production and Life Skills Initiative for Youth Development, the National Leadership Training Programme, Youth Agricultural Homestead Programme, the Alternative Learning and Life-Skills Enhancement Training Programme and more.
“We not interested in bacchanal. We are interested in planning for the future, development of TT through our greatest resource, the young people of this country!”
However, Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, later told the meeting she was there to defend “my friend and colleague,” saying the media should be more responsible in their reporting.
Laying out details of Cummings's loan, she said it was a debt consolidation loan dated November 30, 2017.
It was $14,587,165.84 to assist with business expenses and contracts at a 12 per cent interest rate and $200,000 monthly instalment.
She said the collateral proffered for the loan included four pieces of land, shares in a credit union, contracts from the Housing Development Corporation, a life insurance policy, accounts receivable from MTS, and a fishing facility.
Robinson-Regis said, “Foster put his life on the line to take that loan. Let me tell y’all something ladies and gentlemen, Foster Cummings repaid this loan before he was appointed a minister of government.
“And why y’all feel Foster was vilified so? I don’t want to say Foster is a ‘blank man,’ but I feel blank man have something to do with Foster being vilified. Then again, if I say blank man, y’all know I really mean black man,” Robinson-Regis said.
She then raised questions about an Opposition Senator who had raised allegations against Cummings, but who received an HDC unit in Chaguanas and through a License to Occupy agreement, bought it for between $500,000 and $600,000. This unit, Robinson-Regis claimed, was later sold for $1.2 million.
“Y’all know the HDC provides housing units for medium to low income earners. You could tell me that (senator's name called) in less than five years, was able to pay off for the house and then sell it for $1.2 million? And (name called) want to talk about Foster?”
She also asked if this senator ever lived in that unit.
Also speaking at the event were Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, and Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.