SOURCE: CMC- Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has asked his attorneys to determine whether legal action could be taken against an opposition legislator, who claimed he had benefited from the purchase of a mufti-million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) townhouse in Tobago to the tune of nearly half a million dollars.
“I have no questions to answer, I stand ready to cooperate on any question they (Integrity Commission) ask me because there is no question they can ask me and I can’t answer, none,” Rowley told a news conference here on Friday.
“I am a Tobagonian and I don’t have to justify how I spend my money in Tobago,” Rowley added.
In a December 2 letter sent to the Integrity Commission, opposition legislator, Saddam Hosein, called on the body to probe the purchase of the property alleging that Rowley had failed to declare the TT$1.2 million Tobago townhouse and a half-a-million-dollar “discount” he received on the property.
He wants the Commission to probe the non-disclosure of the acquisition of a townhouse unit at Inez Gate, and the non-disclosure of a gift and/or personal benefit in relation to the purchase of the said townhouse estimated at TT$480,000.
Hosein had first raised the issue during the weekly Monday night Forum of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) and followed up the accusation at a news conference a day later.
“Further, the Prime Minister has not explained the discount on the Townhouse unit purchased by his daughter. The Deed for this Townhouse unit was strange in that the vendor, Mr. Allan Warner, purchased the Townhouse Unit for $1. 6 Million and sold at a loss for $1.2 Million. It is even more suspicious that the Deed for the sale of the Townhouse Unit was prepared by the wife of the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister must explain why only the Rowleys were lucky enough to purchase Inez Gate townhouses at $1.2 Million when others paid $1.6 Million and upwards for their units. Further, the units were advertised for sale of $1.75 Million on Inez Investment’s website. These transactions are very strange and suspicious which demand clarity by the Prime Minister,” Hosein said.
But Rowley told reporters that the allegations being made were nothing new by the UNC, which though not contesting Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections, has thrown its support behind the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) headed by trade unionist, Watson Duke.
“As for the UNC having files on me, you could dig as much as you like, you will find that I am quite deep and I am worth quite a lot and the most of I am worth is my good name, my character, my integrity, my history and my Tobagoness,” Rowley said.
Hosein had also indicated that he was able to make the allegation against Prime Minister Rowley after the Opposition check of the documents of the Integrity Commission showed that Rowley failed to file a declaration of this particular property.
He said also said Rowley, as Prime Minister, is not a “private” citizen, and falls under the ambit of the Integrity in Public Life Act, which requires persons to declare their assets, income and liabilities annually.
Hosein said that former prime minister Basdeo Panday was charged for failing to declare a London bank account.
“We now ask the Integrity Commission to launch an urgent and immediate investigation into this matter,” he said, adding that accountability and transparency are required.”
Rowley said he was also disappointed that the Integrity Commission has so far remained silent on the allegation against him when Hosein and the UNC ‘could be telling the country that they checked at the Integrity Commission and discovered that the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago bought or got a property which he is hiding from the Commission…and therefore the prime minister is guilty of criminal conduct equivalent to what Basdeo Panday was accused of.
“I raise the point how could a frontline person in the Parliament, who has been filing out these forms every year…because he too has to fill out the forms, so he knows what goes into Form A, he knows what goes into Form B, he knows you cannot see information from Form A unless ofcourse somebody in the Integrity Commission breaches the confidence as required by the law and feeds that information to the opposition.”
Rowley questioned whether Hosein had access to information “which says a lot about the security of the Integrity Commission…or is it that Saddam Hosein is lying to the public in order to make an intervention in the campaign in the election in Tobago on behalf of the PDP,” Rowley asked.
Rowley, waving a number of documents, including copies of his submission to the Integrity Commission and the deed of the property, said Hosein and the UNC were on a campaign of “serious character assassination”.
“What do I do? I have passed this this morning to my lawyers to determine, I take legal advice, whether I have been slandered by Saddam Hosein.
‘That accusation of obtaining of obtaining from a contractor and hiding a property and not declaring it, I want to know what recourse I have,” Rowley said.
‘That’s what they do, out of the blue, whatever they think will work for them politically, say anything and do anything and the level of nastiness knows no bounds,” Rowley said, recalling his success in the courts against another UNC member, who has now to pay TT$375,000 in damages to him.
“This an election weekend is the UNC’s contribution to the campaign in Tobago where they are trying to support the PDP by giving Tobagonians the impression that a Tobago boy is who is now prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago and has some interest in this election, I have questions to answer for criminal conduct in Tobago.
“They don’t care who they destroy in the process,” he said, noting that the contractor from whom he is alleged to have received the “gift” is a well-known businessman, now expanding his businesses in Trinidad as well.
“So well as a Tobago contractor has gone to Trinidad, bought into property and business in Trinidad…and I think every Tobagonian should be proud of that .,..and is competing for work down there”.