PORT OF SPAIN — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said last night that former government minister Jack Warner should be investigated for criminal conduct as it relates to an exclusive Sunday Express investigation which found that he solicited millions from businesses using ministerial office.
She spoke at the United National Congress’ Monday night forum at the Chaguanas Government Primary School.
Persad-Bissessar referred to Camini Marajh’s investigation which showed documents pointing to Warner engaging in an improper solicitation of funds from private business interests in his official capacity as a government minister in 2010 and 2011.
Warner has held the posts of Minister of Works and Transport, Minister of Works and Infrastructure and Minister of National Security.
According to Marajh’s report, Warner “wrote to wealthy business interests, including contracting tycoon Junior Sammy on November 29, 2011, asking for contributions to help pay for a planned Ministry of Works Christmas party on December 20, 2011 at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
He called on business stakeholders to make generous donations to a bank account at RBC held in the name of JLM Quality Services Ltd, a private company in which he was a director up to October 31, 2007”.
The prime minister said last night that this warranted an investigation.
“These allegations, if true, would amount to criminal conduct as it relates to the offences under the Integrity in Public Life Act, Section 27, the Prevention of Corruption Act and Tax Evasion in particular, and should be investigated by the relevant authorities,” she said.
She noted that the monies Warner asked for were not just “pennies” but millions were deposited into a private company of which he was a director.
“I read about one Christmas party. That was in December 2011. But since that article appeared yesterday, people have come forward and said there were other parties, which they attended,” said Persad-Bissessar.
“I understand there were Christmas parties in 2010, 2011, and 2012. I understand there were Carnival fetes in 2011, 2012, and 2013 — all at the Centre of Excellence. Who paid for that? Who funded that? Please Mr Warner, tell us. Were requests made to contractors to pay for these functions?” she added.
The prime minister said people who attended these functions described them as “lavish”.
“Jack Warner needs to answer these serious charges published in the Express,” she said.
“Look, they even had a copy of a cheque and bank statement in the newspaper. Jack, forget Khadijah Ameen, you should debate Camini Marajh,” she added.
She said further that these matters were very serious and had Warner been a member of her Cabinet today, she would have accepted another resignation.
“Everyone knows I stood with Mr Warner as long as humanly possible maybe longer, but I can’t now, I cannot do that to you our loyal supporters,” she said.
“We are finding out every day where he is getting all the millions from, we cannot outspend him, no political party in the western hemisphere can outspend him,” added Persad-Bissessar. (Express)