Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kamla calls for freeze on assets

port of spain
PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley must take action on the “fake oil” scandal, says Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who last night called for a freeze on assets to recover millions allegedly defrauded from State-owned Petrotrin.
“We have called for this matter to be investigated by the (Director of Public Prosecutions), Commissioner of Police (and the Fraud Squad) and the Integrity Commission with haste.
“​Dr Rowley must speak immediately on this issue, remove (Energy Minister) Franklin Khan and, fur­ther­more, he has many other questions to answer regar­ding the issues facing the country which have worsened in his absence, inclu­ding the ferry fiasco and run­away crime,” said Persad-Bissessar, in response to e-mailed questions from the Express.
She said the matter went far beyond Petrotrin and was serious enough to warrant the attention of the DPP, Commissioner of Police and Integrity Commission.
She said her office was preparing official letters to these offices, requesting investigations.
Persad-Bissessar said the UNC had heard about this “scandal” privately for months, even while investigations at Petrotrin were ongoing.
Given a Petrotrin em­ployee named in the internal audit was screened by the People’s National Movement (PNM) as a general election candidate in 2015, “which was confirmed by Mr Khan at the press conference (Monday), I am quite surprised Franklin Khan, chairman of the PNM, knew so little about this matter,” she said.
Financing issues
On Sunday, Persad-Bissessar said A&V Oil and Gas was a financier of the PNM, which Khan denied.
Asked about this, she responded: “Well, according to Mr Khan, he doesn’t even know what a PNM financier is, so perhaps the media needs to save that question for others.”
She said: “We have to listen carefully to what Mr Khan said—he said there were no official contributions to the PNM party and, clearly, there are other contributions he may or may not know about...One can also ask how exactly this Keith Rowley Government planned on achieving campaign finance reform if their chairman doesn’t know what a financier is?” she added.
Persad-Bissessar said she received information that the Petrotrin employee was also on another State board.
She called for his immediate resignation from this post.
Rowley will be in attendance at the third round of “Conversations with the Prime Minister” today at 8 p.m., at the St Augustine Senior Comprehensive School, where he is expected to address the issue.