"I can't tell you. I have an accountant, he will tell you."
That was the response yesterday from National Security Minister Jack Warner to an exclusive Sunday Express report that he failed to declare a Teachers' Credit Union account of $611,126.23 to the Integrity Commission within recent years.
Before Warner responded, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was questioned on the issue at a Christmas gift outreach programme at Skinner Park in San Fernando.
The Prime Minister directed the media to get answers from Warner.
Warner in turn said he did not have answers on the issue.
Asked if the accountant may have made an error in the declaration, Warner replied: "It wouldn't be the first time somebody made an error. And it wouldn't be the last time."
According to the Sunday Express report, Warner, a former teacher, joined the credit union in 1983, some 29 years ago.
The report stated that Warner, in his declarations for 2009, 2010 and 2011, stated that he received income from government pension, distributions from the Unit Trust Corporation, a salary as an MP and bank interest from Scotiabank, First Citizens and Republic Bank Ltd. The credit union assets were not declared.
The Express attempted to get a response from Warner more than a week ago, but he had declined comment on the issue.
Speaking at that time through his adviser, Francis Joseph, he had retorted: "You can do what you want."
Attempts to reach Warner again last Saturday before publication of the story in yesterday's Sunday Express proved futile.
The Prime Minister yesterday also came to the defence of Ashworth Jack, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), who has been embroiled in controversy over his multi-million-dollar Tobago house.
Persad-Bissessar said that issue will not affect Jack's chances of winning the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections next month.
The Prime Minister instead said she empathised with Jack, since questions were raised when her private residence at Philippine was being built.
"I don't know why it is a crime for a person to work hard and build a house," the Prime Minister said.
"I remember there were so many allegations regarding the building of my own home. And so I empathise with Ashworth... every person strives to build a home. And I do not believe it will affect his chances in the election.
"There are other allegations about other persons and maybe we need to find out what is happening with those," she added.
Jack, the THA minority leader, is aspiring to replace Orville London of the People's National Movement (PNM) as Chief Secretary of the THA in the January 21, 2013, elections.
"I can't see people allowing that to cloud their vision as to what will be better for Tobago," said Persad-Bissessar. "The decision in Tobago has to be who are the best persons who can deliver. They have had the present crop of people for 12 years and yet the quality of their lives has not improved. That is what would be the real issue, who you believe who can make better decisions, and better management of the THA."
She said the campaign by the TOP for the THA elections was ongoing.
"He (Jack) is on the ground, he is having spot meetings, cottage meetings. I feel very confident that Tobago will make the right decision in this election."
This Thursday the Cabinet will meet in Tobago, where the Prime Minister will continue her Christmas outreach programme on the sister isle. See Page 4.