Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday distanced himself from the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB) after its officers executed a search warrant at the Newsday newspaper's offices in Port of Spain and the home of journalist Andre Bagoo on Thursday.
Ramlogan said yesterday he viewed any continued connection between his office and the ACIB as an "embarrassment" and intended to speak with Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs to once again assume full control of the unit.
Ramlogan said he had not direct control or influence on the ACIB.
The control of the ACIB was moved under the AG's jurisdiction under the tenure of United National Congress Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and was always a contentious move, Ramlogan said.
In a statement Ramlogan described the search and seizure by the ACIB officers as "unexplained" and "dramatic".
Ramlogan said while the ACIB was listed, on paper, under his portfolio, he has "no jurisdiction whatsoever over this entity".
"The office of the AG functions as the administrative conduit for a number of independent bodies including the Office of the DPP, the ACIB and the Judiciary," he said.
Ramlogan denied any knowledge of an investigation initiated by the ACIB into the complaint by chairman of the Integrity Commission Kenneth Gordon.
Ramlogan said he only became aware of the issue after it was reported in the newspapers.
He said he had "no knowledge about the execution of these search warrants and the action of the ACIB" and considered the matter to be of "grave concern".
In these circumstances, Ramlogan said he intended to raise the future of the ACIB with Gibbs in the context of the on-going reform of the Police Service.
Ramlogan said on previous occasions he has expressed his disappointment with the slow pace of the investigations undertaken by the ACIB.
"The ACIB has failed to make any or any meaningful progress on a number of high-profile corruption investigations under the previous administration including the Reverend Juliana Pena Church in Guanapo Heights, Calder Hart, T&TEC street lighting programme, the Landate matter in Tobago, HDC (Housing Development Corporation) and the URP (Unemployment Relief Programme)," Ramlogan noted.
He said ACIB head Superintendent Solomon Koon Koon already confirmed that the ACIB was a unit of the Police Service and as such came under the remit of the Police Commissioner and not the AG.
"The placement of this unit under the office of the AG by former AG Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj was always a matter of some contention," he said.
Ramlogan also condemned the "sudden unusual burst of energy and enthusiasm from the ACIB on a fresh complaint to be quite odd in light of the number of outstanding complaints that appear to be receiving little or no attention over the last few years".
"It is in dire need of strong leadership and re-structuring," Ramlogan said, adding that diplomatic pleas to the police hierarchy had "fallen on deaf ears".
On Thursday, ACIB officers searched the offices of Newsday on Chacon Street, Port of Spain, and questioned Bagoo.
The officers seized files from his work and home computers.
They were searching for information related to an article written by Bagoo last December concerning a legal feud between the Integrity Commission's chairman Gordon and suspended deputy chairman Gladys Gafoor.
A contingent of police officers previously searched the offices of CCN TV6 at Independence Square in Port of Spain last December for video footage aired on TV6's Crime Watch programme.