Friday, January 19, 2018

Gafoor got cheques in dead chauffeur's name


DISPUTE: Gladys Gafoor

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Six years after her husband's death, Gladys Gafoor, who listed him as her chauffeur, continued to receive cheques in his name. Gafoor, the last remaining member of the Integrity Commission, received these funds over the period October 1995 to October 2001. Anthony Gafoor died on September 13, 1995.

This according to an affidavit filed by former registrar of the Industrial Court, Marilin Sammy Wallace.

In the matter of Sammy Wallace versus the Attorney General HCA S623 of 2003), Wallace alleged that: "On July 2, 2002, the Acting Auditing Assistant of the Court, Mrs Indira Frank wrote to me (Wallace) a memorandum informing me of her observation that Mr Anthony Gafoor was paid as a chauffeur to Mrs Gladys Gafoor during the period June 1, 1994 to October 31, 2001. However, Mr Gafoor departed this life on September 12, 1995."

Wallace's affidavit stated that on July 2, 2002, she wrote the then vice-president (Gafoor) informing her of the query and enquired how she intended to repay the State the monies paid in respect of the chauffeur allowance for the period September 13, 1995 to October 31, 2001.

According to the affidavit, Wallace said later on that same day, she wrote another memorandum to Gafoor requesting information about her present chauffeur. Wallace stated that on the evening of July 2, 2002, one Mr Anthony Ramjohn came to see her in her office to inform her in writing that he had assumed duty as the chauffeur of Gafoor since May 13, 2002.

The affidavit stated that on July 5, 2002, Gafoor responded, and in a memorandum copied to the President, threatened legal action. Wallace said the President wrote to her (Wallace) asking that she produce the evidence that the Vice-President had no chauffeur.

In the document, Wallace stated that she did not respond to the President's letter.

"Because of the tenuous nature and the way this matter was progressing, I had earlier written the Commissioner of Police on June 27, 2003," she wrote.

In fact, Wallace wrote to a number of persons, including the President, ANR Robinson; Prime Minister Patrick Manning, with whom she had a meeting at his office; the then Attorney General, Glenda Morean, and the then CoP Hilton Guy.

In the letter to Guy, Wallace stated: "The Vice President of the Court claimed her husband was her chauffeur and as a consequence was paid a chauffeur allowance up to the end of 2001, although her husband died since 1995."

The Express has a copy of an Industrial Court pay record card for the period January to November, 2001, in which Anthony Gafoor is named as a chauffeur, in the Salary Scale of Range 17, with the remarks: "Mr Anthony Gafoor is the chauffeur of Mrs Gladys Gafoor."

Gafoor has a son, Anthony David Jalil Gafoor, who was appointed chairman of the Tax Appeal Board, with effect from December 15, 1998, a position which carries as one of its perks, a chauffeur.

When the dispute arose about the identity of Gafoor's driver, Wallace stopped payment of the $2,500 chauffeur allowance in October 2002.

Gafoor took the matter to court and won hands down. According to newspapers' records Justice Mira Dean-Armorer said that the issue before the court was whether Gafoor was entitled to have the chauffeur allowance paid to her, or whether it was payable to the chauffeur. Dean-Armorer ruled that it was illegal for the Registrar to withhold direct payment of the chauffeur allowance to Gafoor.

In making her judgment, she said: "The allowance is a perquisite of the office holder and in my view, she is entitled to have it paid to her directly if she so wishes."

She said the Registrar's policy of having the State pay the chauffeur on Gafoor's behalf "would be altering the terms and conditions" of the Vice President.

This, the judge concluded, was contrary to Section 5 (3) of the Industrial Relations Act, which prohibits any alteration to the detriment of the terms and conditions of any member and Vice President of the Industrial Court.

The Registrar was therefore ordered to compensate Gafoor for the months that she was deprived of the allowance. The judge said the driver was essentially Gafoor's employee and she was entitled to pay him directly.

Attempts to reach Gafoor yesterday proved futile.

Judges at the Industrial Court no longer have a chauffeur allowance. They are, however, paid an allowance which would allow them, if they so desire, to engage a chauffeur.

Ironically, when Gafoor served as Acting Solicitor General, she gave advice to the then Registrar of the Industrial Court, who sought an opinion on the issue of the chauffeur allowance. In a circular dated May 26, 1986, Gafoor pointed to the Ministry of Finance Circular No 2 1981, in which it was agreed that "a chauffeur allowance be paid to holders of offices under the purview of the Salaries Review Commission for which a chauffeur allowance is payable, only if the holder of the particular office actually employs a chauffeur".

"In view of the foregoing, I am of the opinion that such allowance should therefore be paid to members of the court only when a chauffeur is actually employed. And I so advise," she said.