Saturday, February 17, 2018

E-mail probers go to Central Authority

The Central Authority has been approached by investigators probing a series of 31 “e-mails”, which were revealed in Parliament by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in May 2013.

Sources told the Express the police officers probing the matter have engaged the Authority, which is a unit within the Office of the Attorney General and is headed by Netram Kowlessar.

“There’s continuing consultancy with regards to the matter,” the source said, “and the next step will be seeking the service providers.”

Sources further say that a request was made to Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) to have certain information given over, but TSTT told investigators they needed a warrant for such information to be released.

Contacted last week by the Express, Kowlessar refused to comment on the questions posed to him.

“I’m sorry, I can’t give any information with regards to that. I cannot deny or confirm anything. It’s the sensitivity and confidentiality of the matter,” he said.

On May 20 last year, Rowley released 31 “e-mails” in Parliament, purported to have been exchanges among four Government ministers.

The contents of the e-mails alleged wrongdoing against Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard SC; attempts to intimidate a journalist; and also the payment of money by unknown individuals seeking to be freed in connection with the early proclamation of Section 34.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, along with National Security Minister Gary Griffith, were all named in the “e-mails”.

They strongly denied knowledge of the e-mails and their contents.

Rowley told the Parliament he gave the e-mails to then President George Maxwell Richards to probe, but, six months later nothing had been done.

Shortly after the revelations in Parliament, Persad-Bissessar asked acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams to investigate.

Williams appointed Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson.

But Richardson retired from the Police Service last year and Williams mandated DCP Glenn Hackett to continue the probe.

Contacted and asked for an update as to the progress of investigations, Hackett declined to say anything to the Express.

“I do not wish to make any comment at this time,” he said.

The Express understands that all parties implicated in the investigation have been interviewed and investigators are working alongside deputy DPP Joan Honore-Paul in an attempt to move forward with the case.

Apart from the police investigation, the Integrity Commission last August indicated the commencement of its own investigation.

In a media release, the Commission said under “Section 33 (a) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, it commenced an investigation, in a bid to determine the authenticity of the e-mails read”.

This included liaising with international search engine Google.

But there was controversy when it was revealed that Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon met with Rowley on the request of the latter to discuss the matter.

The end result was Gordon recused himself from the matter.