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