GORDON PROBES JACK’S CLAIMS
Glenn welcomes investigation: Integrity Commission initiates action on allegation that a minister owns 6 palatial homes
The Integrity Commission is using its own initiative to investigate corruption allegations against a Government minister made by Independent Liberal Party (LIP) interim leader Jack Warner during the Chaguanas West by-election campaign.
In a media release yesterday, the commission signalled its intention to investigate Warner’s claim that a Government minister had acquired six houses, one of which came from a contractor in exchange for that contractor receiving a $36 million contract.
The commission is also investigating the allegation that the same minister “received a house from a businessman in exchange for the businessman having some of his properties rented by the minister’s ministry”.
Commission chairman Ken Gordon yesterday said while the commission usually investigates complaints brought to it, it has decided to invoke Section 33 of the Integrity in Public Life Act and investigate Warner’s claims without a formal complaint before the commissioners.
The commissioners are Gordon, retired justice Sebastian Ventour (deputy chairman), Seunarine Jokhoo, Deonarine Jaggernauth and Dr Shelly-Anne Lalchan.
On July 23, seven days before the Chaguanas West by-election, Warner, during a public meeting at the Marchin Recreation Grounds in Cunupia, showed pictures of six “palatial homes” which he said belonged to one Government minister who “could not afford to buy a doubles” before his ministerial post.
Though Warner was careful not to name the minister, the day after the allegations were made, Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh stepped forward to deny them, saying then that he owned one home that was still mortgaged and incomplete.
“It is a judgment call based on the seriousness of the allegations,” Gordon said.
“The Integrity Commission always prefers that people write the complaint as the basis for our work, but according to the act, we do not need something to be before us in order to act,” he added.
The release stated that in accordance with Section 33 (a) of the act, “the Integrity Commission may, on its own initiative, consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct by persons in public life. The commission has decided to pursue this matter”.
Gordon said while the commission still lacked the manpower to investigate everything alleged in the course of the by-election campaign, it would be taking more self-initiated action.
“It is not something we could sit down and decide whimsically to investigate everything that occurs, but we will be selectively investigating some matters,” he said.
According to Gordon, “It (Section 33 of the Integrity in Public Life Act) has been used at least three times in the past. We feel now that it must be made clear that we must act.”
Gordon also said the commission wanted to make it clear that it would be using its own initiative to investigate violations of the act.
Ramadharsingh, in a telephone interview yesterday, said he “welcomed” the investigation as a means to “clear the air” after Warner made the “salacious” allegations.
“I have a very good relationship with the Integrity Commission. They have not contacted me, but I hope that they are going to use their initiative to investigate other matters, too,” he said.
Warner, in a telephone interview, said he too “welcomed” the investigation, though he found it “unusual” they would investigate without a formal complaint.
“I have the proof to back up everything I say on the platform. Everything,” he said.
Warner said he was so confident that he was right, that if he was proven wrong, he intended to kneel and kiss Ramadharsingh’s feet in apology.
“I will kiss his ring and his feet if I am wrong. That is how confident I am in my information,” he said.
Warner said he had more information, adding that the level of corruption he has uncovered was “bad, bad”.
“Information comes to me in droves, droves. And it is not good. I have to talk to my lawyers before I could even reveal some of it because I do not want to cause the demise of the Government. It is that bad,” he said.
Statement by Integrity Commission
The Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago in the exercise of its mandate under Section 33 (a) of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA), has taken a decision to initiate an investigation into allegations of corruption made by Mr Jack Warner, MP against a Government minister.
Mr Warner, at a political campaign meeting on July 23, 2013, for the Chaguanas West constituency, made statements alleging that a Government minister had, “since becoming a minister acquired six houses, one of which was received from a contractor in exchange for that contractor receiving a $36 million contract”. It was also alleged that “a minister of government allegedly received a house from a businessman in exchange for the businessman having some of his properties rented by the minister’s ministry.”
In accordance with Section 33 (a) of the IPLA the Integrity Commission may, on its own initiative, consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct by persons in public life. The commission has decided to pursue this matter.
The commission intends to inform the public from time to time, when it has decided to carry out investigations on its own initiative.