Is National Security Minister Jack Warner under probe by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)?
Mere days before members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) visit Trinidad and Tobago to hold talks with various heads, including Warner, with respect to the FIU's compliance to the required recommended standards, Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds is questioning whether the FIU is investigating Warner.
Hinds raised the question during his contribution to the debate on the Financial Intelligence Unit and Anti-Terrorism Bill at the Senate sitting yesterday at Tower D of the Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain.
Hinds noted that Warner (and Mohamed Bin Hammam, former head of the Asian Football Confederation) was accused of bribing 25 members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) with US$40,000 each last year at the Hyatt Regency hotel, Port of Spain.
"I have not heard a word from the Financial Intelligence Unit on that to this day... I want to know whether they are investigating this matter. We want to know how did that US$1 million come into Trinidad and Tobago," said Hinds.
He noted further that former police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs had said the police investigation into the matter was closed, which prompted Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard to say it was not and, in fact, he had directed the police to look at possible breaches of the Customs Act. "That can be recorded as a suspicious transaction," said Hinds.
He informed the Senate that he had written to now acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams last week, questioning whether these investigations were still under way.
Hinds said the Government continued to remain mum on the matter. "Silence from the Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, the Minister is rewarded with 'acting Prime Minister' whenever she departs, and I understand this is causing some consternation by some decent members of the Cabinet. Split in the Cabinet."
He also questioned which anti-money laundering investigations were currently going on, as there was no shortage of drugs on the streets, even after the state of emergency last year. "The FIU is curiously silent on many matters in this country, especially since the failed state of emergency. We have had reports of drugs in containers in Point Lisas, not a word from the FIU in Trinidad, not a single prosecution by the FIU... with very low-hanging fruit in Trinidad and Tobago, corruption left, right and centre, not a single word from the FIU," said Hinds.
"You want me to tell you?" interjected Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, and Hinds responded saying, "You'll get your turn.
"There are probably people in the Government structure of Trinidad and Tobago today whose activity and whose conduct cannot stand proper scrutiny of the FIU," continued Hinds.
He also took issue with reported comments by Ramlogan that not one red cent was paid to any of the people who were detained during the state of emergency last year. "I want to let him (Ramlogan) know there are matters before the court and, in due time, red cents will be paid," said Hinds.