Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gordon: I did not write that letter

Integrity Commission declines to probe Ashworth


insufficient evidence: Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon, right, greets President George Maxwell Richards before the Commission's 25th anniversary Christmas dinner on Thursday night at the Hyatt Regency hotel. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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It was not Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon who wrote to Moses O Thomas informing him that there was nothing to investigate about Ashworth Jack's land ownership.

Thomas had told the Express that he wrote the Integrity Commission in October last year raising the issue of the land on which Jack's home was built.

And he also called for the revocation of Gordon's appointment as Commission chairman.

Thomas, the field liaison officer for the Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), said he planned to instruct his attorney Pennelope Beckles to write President George Maxwell Richards to revoke Gordon's appointment.

Gordon addressed this issue as he delivered the chairman's welcome at the Integrity Commission's 25th anniversary Christmas dinner held at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) on Thursday night.

Richards was present at the event.

"I wanted to revert at this point to an article in today's paper that most of you may have read that was very critical of the Commission and its chairman in particular," Gordon said as he diverted from his prepared text.

"But a quick snapshot of that event may bring home to you the reality of why we must keep the public informed," he said.

Gordon said the commission looked at Thomas' letter and decided that there was simply not enough information in that letter to commit any serious kind of investigation to proceed.

Thomas's letter, which was written in October 2011, asked the Commission to be allowed to review Jack's declaration of income, assets and liabilities for the years 2001-2008. And, he said, he saw "very inconsistent declarations".

"You can't tell me that you have one parcel of land that you declare in one year and then the next year you declare another parcel but in the succeeding years, you don't declare the second parcel (which is the one at St George on which the house has been built)," he said.

The Commission responded that same month in a letter signed by registrar Martin Farrell.

"The fact of the matter is the letter (from the Commission) was written by the Registrar, the letter (from Thomas) was also received in October, the work was done in October. I joined the Commission on the first of November. I was not there when all this was taking place," Gordon said.

"Here we are and this article is written saying that I wrote the letter which I never did, I did not know anything about the results which took place because I was not there. Your Excellency appointed me on November 1," he said.

"I say this only because it is important to clarify, when so much misunderstanding occurs so frequently the Commission is held up as being this, that and the other when the explanation is just simply not true," Gordon said.

"You cannot launch any investigation, make any judgment that affects someone's life on the basis of newspaper articles," he said.

President Richards told the gathering that corrupt practices can lead to a country becoming a dictatorship. His warning comes on the heels of the latest report from Transparency International, which gave this country a failing grade.

Trinidad and Tobago is ranked 80 out of 176 countries on the corruption perception index with a score of 39 out of 100. President Richards said this country did not even score a passing grade, with five countries in the region outperforming us, among them Barbados and Dominica.