Monday, December 18, 2017

Dumping LifeSport documents

Rowley: Dates for 2015 cheques changed and cashed...


showing it: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley holds up alleged LifeSport cheque stubs yesterday at a news conference at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

Mark Fraser

OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley claimed yesterday attempts are being made to cleanse Government’s controversial LifeSport programme of evidence of “ghosting” through the dumping of documents.

Rowley has produced a book of cheque stubs he claimed were the remains of a concurrent series of cheques made out to individuals around the country—but which appear to have been in the possession of one person.

Speaking at a media conference called by the People’s National Movement (PNM) at the Parliament Building on the Port of Spain Waterfront, Rowley said the booklet was found in a garbage bag at the Beetham Landfill. 

“People have been destroying evidence,” Rowley said, holding up the spine of a cheque book, still containing some stubs.

Rowley said the stubs were in one envelope when they were found in the “La Basse”. 

Each stub is made out to a different person, in areas including Malabar, Tabaquite, Morvant, La Romaine and Bagatelle, Rowley said, though he called no names.

“This is an indication of ghosting,” Rowley said, adding, “One person had them all.”

This is the latest in a series of allegations of corruption in the LifeSport programme, which was intended to use sport to divert young people away from a life of crime.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced she had accepted the resignation of former sport minister Anil Roberts, who was called upon by many quarters to step down from public office.

Rowley said yesterday the “cancer” in the LifeSport programme did not end with Roberts but appears to have extended itself all the way to the banks, where he said the cashing of cheques for questionable sources was being facilitated.

He said there was evidence some of the cheques had been dated for June 2015 but were changed by pen to June 2014 and initialled, before apparently being cashed.

He has also called for an investigation into Malabar Football Club, which he said began receiving funding from the Ministry of Sport one month after Roberts took office in 2010.

While there is documented evidence that the club was approved by Roberts for a monthly subsidy of $59,000 for staff and stipends to players in June 2010, the official request for funding from that club is dated September 1, 2010, he said.

Rowley has suggested public funding was being used to amass political support in that area, through such grants.

In the meantime, he said he was unable to secure from the Ministry of Sport a one-off contribution of $40,000 for the Diego Martin Football League, which does not lie within his constituency of Diego Martin West.

“I got no reply,” Rowley said.

He is calling for investigations into a number of sport entities that have received large sums of money from the Ministry of Sport, including Malabar FC, Twilight Games, Rural Sport and the Hoop of Life programme, which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar launched in 2012 at the Beetham Gardens with a surprise guest, basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal.

Rowley said he wants investigations by the Auditor General and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.