AG: Audit on Ramdeen over value for money

Date: 
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 00:00

The reference made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that Opposition Senator attorney Gerald Ramdeen was a “person of great interest” to the State was in the context of an ongoing audit being conducted by the Attorney General’s office.

AG Faris Al-Rawi emphasised that neither his office nor that of the PM had the authority to probe anyone, adding that was the role of the police.

At a press conference at Piarco Airport on his return to the country, Rowley was asked about the concern raised by Ramdeen about Justin Junkere following news of Junkere having a State brief from the AG’s office.

Junkere was one of two Independent Senators who voted with the Government to pass the SSA Bill. 

"Ramdeen is person of great interest to the Government"

Rowley, in response said: “I just find it a little offensive to be receiving queries from Gerald Ramdeen. Gerald Ramdeen is a person of great interest to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and I have some questions for him too, and one of them is whether in fact the people of Trinidad and Tobago should support what they represent and to the best of my knowledge this Government has done nothing inappropriate with Mr Junkere. 

“There are some appointments that we make and some that other people make and I don’t know that we are having to answer any questions from Mr Ramdeen, who as far as I know the last time I heard his name he was under criminal investigation, a series of them,” Rowley said.

Junkere’s State brief was received under former People’s Partnership attorney general Garvin Nicholas.

Al-Rawi said Ramdeen and Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge have amassed a bill of State briefs from the AG’s office, amounting to more than $26 million and $10 million, respectively.

Al-Rawi said while he could not give a time frame as to when the audit would be completed he said it primarily focused on the “value for money “principle regarding the hiring of State attorneys.

“It has nothing to do with a police investigation which Mr Ramdeen may be subject to. We certainly have no part in that,” Al-Rawi added.

He said under the last regime some 1.2 billion was forked out to pay for State briefs.

Ramdeen's response 

Contacted yesterday Ramdeen said Rowley's statements were clearly designed to instill fear in citizens but added that he (Ramdeen) would not be sidetracked.

“As to the Prime Minister's statement that I am a person of great interest to the people of Trinidad and Tobago I would like Dr Rowley to know that such statements which are clearly designed to instill fear in citizens of this country will not deter persons like myself who are prepared to stand up for what is right and defend the people of this country from this regime that he leads.

“As to his reference to criminal investigations, certain allegations were made against me which have been investigated and proven to be unfounded and I am confident that the prisongate investigation will suffer the same faith as emailgate,” Ramdeen said.

He said regarding statements of the fees that he and Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge had earned he called on Al-Rawi to publicly explain:

• The number of matters that those fees represent.

• The exposure of the State with respect to those matters.

• The success rate regarding himself and Struge. 

Obsession with numbers

Saying he had very little confidence that the AG would in fact do so Ramdeen added: “I don’t expect that his obsession with numbers would allow him to reveal these statistics because they will again expose his folly.

“The population of this country should now accept that it is the strategy of this regime, led by Dr Rowley, to resort to debasing peoples character when they are unable to answer the criticisms of his government.

“ I challenge the Prime Minster and the Attorney General to deal with the issues that I have raised in the Senate and elsewhere.”

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Geisha Kowlessar)

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