PM responds to Moonilal's AV Drilling claim today

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley is ex­pect­ed to re­spond in a cou­ple hours to al­le­ga­tions made last night dur­ing the Bud­get de­bate. The PM will stage a press con­fer­ence at 11 am to ad­dress the mat­ter.

Dur­ing the de­bate, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Mooni­lal claimed he had doc­u­ments from a Mi­a­mi bank­ing in­sti­tute and emails which re­vealed Row­ley was a ben­e­fi­cia­ry of funds from the A&V Drilling fake oil scan­dal. Mooni­lal claimed he had ac­quired the doc­u­ments fol­low­ing trips he has made to the bank­ing in­sti­tu­tion in re­cent months.

Mooni­lal read out the de­tails of the Mi­a­mi bank ac­count that named both Row­ley and for­mer can­di­date for Siparia un­der the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment, Vidya De­ok­iesingh, as the ben­e­fi­cia­ries on the ac­count. He al­so read de­tails which showed mil­lions of dol­lars passed through the ac­count. He did not di­rect­ly name Row­ley ini­tial­ly, but read out the PM’s name, let­ter by let­ter, from the doc­u­ment af­ter he was chal­lenged to own the in­for­ma­tion and name the PM as op­posed to do­ing to through in­nu­en­do by At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi.

It was on­ly af­ter House Speak­er Bridgid An­nisette-George agreed with Al-Rawi that Mooni­lal should own the in­for­ma­tion due to the se­ri­ous­ness of the al­le­ga­tion that he did so. How­ev­er, Mooni­lal ad­mit­ted that if the in­for­ma­tion was in­ac­cu­rate he would be will­ing to apol­o­gise to those in­crim­i­nat­ed.

Mooni­lal was in­ter­rupt­ed sev­er­al times by Al-Rawi and Laven­tille West MP Fitzger­ald Hinds as he made the scan­dalous claim un­der the ini­tial pre­text that he could not name Row­ley be­cause he was a mem­ber of the House.

Speak­ing im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter, Hinds re­mind­ed the House that Mooni­lal had made the al­le­ga­tions be­fore and was round­ly scoffed at and laughed off. Ac­cus­ing Mooni­lal of re­hash­ing old in­for­ma­tion, he chal­lenged Mooni­lal to make the claims in pub­lic.

De­ok­iesingh was fired from Petrotrin af­ter a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion which found that A&V Drilling was over­stat­ing the amount of oil that was sold to Petrotrin. It amount­ed to some $100 mil­lion.

The own­er of A&V Drilling, Han­iff Naz­im Baksh, is a close friend of Row­ley and his daugh­ter Al­li­son Baksh was a for­mer PNM sen­a­tor who re­signed amid the in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­to her fa­ther's com­pa­ny’s op­er­a­tions.

- by Renuka Singh

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