Saturday, February 24, 2018

'One law for Panday, another for Warner'

Jack fails to declare credit union account

FORMER prime minister Basdeo Panday yesterday adopted a wait-and-see approach on whether National Security Minister Jack Warner would be penalised for failing to declare his Teachers' Credit Union (TCU) account to the Integrity Commission in recent years.

Panday said, "I think it will be very interesting to see what the Integrity Commission will do. I don't know what they will do. There may be one law for Panday and one law for Warner, so I will simply wait and see what is happening."

Panday was charged in September 2002 under the Integrity in Public Life Act of 1987 with failing to declare the assets of a London-based bank account, amounting to approximately $1.6 million.

The account was held at the National Westminster Bank, London, for the years ending 1997, 1998 and 1999 while he was prime minister.

He was sentenced to two years in prison in April 2006 by former chief magistrate Sherman McNicolls, who died last Thursday and whose funeral was held yesterday. (See Page 9)

Panday spent five days at the Maximum Security Prison before being granted bail on the basis of ill health.

A retrial was eventually ordered and last June, Magistrate Marcia Murray ruled that the Integrity Commission had failed to comply with the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act.

Panday was freed on the three charges of failing to declare the account.

The Sunday Express reported exclusively that Warner failed to declare the Teachers' Credit Union account of $611,126.23 to the Integrity Commission.

When questioned about the issue on Sunday, Warner said: "I can't tell you, I have an accountant, he will tell you."

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. The report stated that in his declarations for 2009, 2010 and 2011, Warner stated he received income from government pension, distributions from the Unit Trust Corporation, a salary as a member of Parliament and bank interest from Scotiabank, First Citizens and Republic Bank Ltd.

The credit union assets were not declared.

Asked yesterday whether the Integrity Commission was going to consider the information in the public domain on Warner, chairman Ken Gordon said the Commission always has to consider information.

"We live here, we must observe but we cannot comment on anything" related to declarations made to the Commission and other related matters, he said.