The Integrity Commission’s (IC) probe into the emailgate scandal is heating up.
Sources close to the investigation told the Express yesterday the Commission is aggressively seeking information from attorneys representing Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and two members of her Cabinet.
This, they say, is contrary to the luke-warm pace of the four-month-old police probe into the matter.
The Commission reportedly wrote to Israel Khan SC and Pamela Elder SC on Monday requesting them to hand over all the electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones to the Commission.
Elder is representing the interests of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Minister of Works and Infrastructure Dr Surujrattan Rambachan.
The three, along with former security adviser to the prime minister, Gary Griffith, were implicated in a series of 31 e-mails, purporting to commit illegal acts, during the height of the Section 34 controversy in September 2012.
Griffith has since complied with a police probe in the matter and has handed over his devices.
The allegations were made by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in the Parliament on May 20 this year.
Sources told the Express the attorneys are yet to reply to the Commission.
They indicated, however, that the lawyers’ position will not be different from the one they adopted with the police probe, headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mervyn Richardson.
“They will insist that permission will only be allowed for the devices to be checked only for the period under query, which is September 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012,” the Express was told.
Whether the Commission will accept this position, is left to be seen.
It was only on August 30, that the Integrity Commission announced to the country that it had started a probe into the emailgate scandal, some nine months after Rowley had taken the matter to then-president, Prof George Maxwell Richards, for action.
During a motion of no confidence in the Government under the leadership of Persad-Bissessar, Rowley claimedt the Partnership Government had attacked and conspired to undermine key institutions of the State—including the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Opposition, and the media.
The Commission had stated, that “in the exercise of its mandate under Section 33 (a) of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA), (it) has commenced an investigation to determine the authenticity of alleged electronic mails as provided to the Commission by the former president, Prof George Maxwell Richards.”
The Commission also added it “has had response from an international electronic mail service provider and is moving ahead with its investigation”.
It further stated that in June, it had solicited legal advice on whether the Commission had the authority to investigate the issue at hand and was assured it “indeed has the jurisdiction to consider and enquire matters where there have been breaches of the IPLA and where an offence has been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act”.
According to the Commission, the senior counsel advised that the Commission was vested with jurisdiction to investigate the matters raised in the purported e-mails to determine whether the conduct of any person who falls under the purview of the Commission is dishonest, corrupt or conducive to corruption.
The Commission was further advised it could also report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) if it was satisfied that an offence had been committed.
“It should be noted that by section 5(2) (b) of the Act, the Commission may at any time make use of the services of the police if it considers it appropriate to do so.
“It should further be noted that by section 34 (7), if after an investigation has been conducted, the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, it is required to make a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions who may take such action as he thinks appropriate and by section 31(3), it shall report to the Director of Public Prosecutions any breach of the Code of Conduct by a Member of Parliament,” the senior counsel advised.
Chairman of the Integrity Commission Ken Gordon is not taking part in the investigations. Gordon has recused himself following strong protest by the government in July, who demanded his resignation from the Commission after he had met”secretly” with Rowley on the e-mails matter.
Both men had met at Gordon’s Glencoe home a few days before Rowley made his disclosure in the Parliament in May.