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JACK NOT CLEARED

DPP: I did not advise cops to stop bribery probe

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard has said he never advised the police to stop investigations into allegations of bribery, alleged to have taken place at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on and about May 10, 2011. The allegations involve Works Minister Jack Warner, former vice-president of FIFA.

In fact, the DPP said he told police that investigations should be continued in the context of the Customs Act.

However, correspondence from the Police Service Commission (PSC) to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has revealed that Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs informed the Police Service Commission by letter, dated March 2012, that "on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, no further action can be taken in this matter".

Gaspard, responding to yesterday's headline in the Express "No Case on Jack", told the Express yesterday that anyone who suggested he had advised the police that no further action could be taken in this matter was either "misstating or erroneously conveying to the media my sentiments".

"If the Commissioner said so, then the Commissioner is inaccurately characterising the advice that I gave," Gaspard said.

The DPP said the investigator in the matter (Inspector Totaram Dookie) would have written to him, asking for advice in the matter based on the material that he would have provided to him. He (Gaspard) responded in a memorandum, dated March 20, 2012, which stated: "Please be advised that from my perusal of the rather threadbare information and material submitted to me, I am unable to discern any contravention of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago by any person. However, I am also of the view that further investigations may be warranted pursuant to the Customs Act, Chapter 78: 01."

He said he did not understand how, in those circumstances, anyone could have formed the impression that he said the investigations could go no further. "I actually suggested that the investigation be continued in the context of the Customs Act," he said.

He reiterated he has not directed that the file on the matter be closed or that the investigation come to an end.

Asked whether he was going to take up the matter with the Commissioner of Police, Gaspard said, "I am dealing with what has come out in the public domain, and what came out in the public domain is inaccurate."

He did not propose to go to the Commissioner to find out what he said. "I am not chasing the Commissioner's shadow. I am dealing with what was published, which is not accurate," the DPP stated.

He said he could only advise, not direct, the police to do an investigation. He said what was submitted to him did not suggest anything sufficient to mount any advice to prosecute anyone.

The Express understands that what was submitted to the DPP was the video recording of the meeting at the Hyatt hotel and a document from the Customs and Excise Division.

In May 2010, Works Minister Jack Warner (then FIFA vice-president) invited the heads of various Caribbean football associations to meet with FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam in Port of Spain. At that meeting, several officials reported that over US$1 million was distributed to them in brown envelopes. The Opposition, in June 2010, wrote to Gibbs, calling for an investigation into the possible breach of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, including the Exchange Control Act, the Customs Act and, generally, the criminal law relating to bribery.

Meanwhile, Warner yesterday chastised Rowley for suggesting the investigation was less than thorough and what the police placed before the DPP was less than adequate. "I am not surprised that in his disappointment over the outcome of the investigation, he now chooses to fire shots wildly into the night at the very institutions he would have exalted had they found in his favour," Warner said.

"By his own admission, Dr Rowley has exposed in today's (Tuesday) Daily Express that he had been on a fishing trip and a witch-hunt all along. And in a classic case of "sour grapes", it is unfortunate that he is seeking to impugn, once again, the reputation of the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) and Customs, with similar imputations against the Director of Public Prosecutions. One cannot help but wonder if Dr Rowley is just a parrot of rhetoric or if there is an ulterior agenda to malign the key elements of the justice system in anticipation of an unfavourable finding against him in the Landate matter.

"Either way, he is urged to be more responsible in his utterings and to treat our institutions and offices, especially the independent ones, with the respect they are due," Warner said.

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