The Integrity Commission has categorically stated that no allegations of misbehaviour in public office against Sport Minister Anil Roberts have been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The commission’s statement came in response to an article in the Trinidad Guardian which appeared on Wednesday and which stated the Integrity Commission had referred a matter concerning Roberts, permanent secretary Ashwin Creed and adviser to the Boxing Board of Control Boxu Potts to the DPP.
The Guardian followed up with another story in yesterday’s issue, stating there were calls for Roberts to step down as minister. In fact, none of the three people referred to in the Guardian stories— Minister Roberts, Creed and Potts—has been under investigation by the DPP or referred to the DPP by the Integrity Commission.
In the same matter, Public Administration Minister and Congress of the People (COP) chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan defended her statements, which appeared to call for Roberts to step down as minister until he is cleared of the allegations of misbehaviour, saying she was referring “to a principle of governance and not an indictment of Roberts”.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Integrity Commission stressed that no allegations with respect to Roberts, Creed or Potts have been referred to the DPP.
“The said persons were not referred to the DPP by the Office of the Integrity Commission,” the commission emphasised.
The commission referred to the Integrity in Public Life Act which requires it to give a person a full opportunity to be heard before making an adverse finding.
“It is important to emphasise that Section 38 of the Integrity in Public Life Act (Chapter 22:01) states: No report concluding that a person to whom this act applies has failed without reasonable justification to fulfil a duty or obligation under this act shall be made until reasonable notice has been given to such person of the alleged failure and the person has been allowed full opportunity to be heard, either in person or by an attorney,” the release concluded.
However, the commission is yet to say exactly what has been referred to the DPP. The commission, in a letter to former boxing board member Ricardo Phillip, who filed a complaint with the Integrity Commission in 2011, said his complaint—against the trio of Roberts, Creed and Potts—had been referred to the DPP.
A source familiar with the process explained that a complaint may be made against certain persons, but in the course of its investigations, the commission may find other things which need to be investigated which have nothing to do with the original persons named in the complaint but may be related to other persons who are not persons in public life and, therefore, do not fall under the commission’s ambit.
“The commission can only investigate persons who are in public life. So when it is doing the investigation and it finds that somebody who is not a person in public life has done certain things that need to be followed up, but the commission cannot go after those persons because they are not persons in public life. So it reports this matter to the DPP, so that if he (the DPP) has cause to take up action, he can take action against that person or persons,” the source noted.
The commission would then write the complainant (as it did in this matter), stating it has conducted an investigation and has referred the matter to the DPP. But the commission does not tell the complainant what it found or who specifically has been referred to the DPP.
In a statement issued after Roberts criticised her during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference for jumping to conclusions without ascertaining the facts, Seepersad-Bachan sought to clarify her position on the matter as expressed in a newspaper report.
That report, which appeared in yesterday’s Guardian, quoted her as saying: “I take very seriously this matter where ministers are required to answer to any charges of corruption or conflict of interest involving their ministries or agencies that report to them. In such a case, they ought to step aside to facilitate the investigations, any form of investigations being carried out by the DPP.”
Seepersad-Bachan pointed out the quote made it clear she was citing “a principle of governance and not an indictment of Minister Roberts”.
The Public Administration Minister added: “As chairman of the Congress of the People, it is my duty to ensure that we as a party adhere to our basic principles, and in matters where our members, especially our senior members, are involved, we need to get their sides of the story. We did this recently when Mr Vernon de Lima was accused of being part of a plot to destabilise the country.”