At least one board director at the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (Udecott), Senator Michael Annisette, has maintained that Udecott has "done nothing wrong." Annisette stressed that Calder Hart's decision to resign from Udecott as its executive chairman was Hart's prerogative, and that it failed to act as an indictment of wrongdoing at Udecott. "That is his call (to resign)...That is his decision," Annisette said. "I do not know what the circumstances were (or) what may have compelled him to make such decisions. Until I speak with him and until I get a feel (of why he did it), I do not want to speculate. I do not live my life on speculation," he told the T&T Guardian, during, a telephone interview yesterday.
He confirmed that Hart left Trinidad and Tobago hours after he tendered his resignation from the Udecott board and four other State boards. Annisette also condemned a statement that Hart along with his wife Sherrine and daughter Jean fled to Florida. "I cannot answer for Mr Hart as to the reasons why he would have left the country," he said. "There may be genuine reasons and what not. And then, I do not want to get into speculation. "When you say flee, what does that mean? That someone was going to get arrested? What is the purpose of saying that he fled the country? Flee the country has a serious connotation about it." Annisette admitted that he was unaware that Hart was going to take flight from Trinidad and Tobago over the weekend.
He also said that he had no prior information that Hart was going to resign on Saturday. "You see, I saw Mr Hart and we had no such discussions," he said. "The last time I saw him was on Thursday." A day after Annisette and Hart met last week Thursday, High Court Judge Mira Dean-Armorer dismissed a Udecott lawsuit to block the Commission of Enquiry investigating Udecott and the local construction sector, from submitting its report to President George Maxwell Richards. Annisette explained that he was first made aware of Hart's resignation after callers inundated his mobile phone about it. "I was in Tobago, because I am here doing some work, and then I got a call. I mean my phone was inundated with telephone calls: 'Where has Mr Hart gone. Do you know about his resignation'...and that is how I got to know about it," he said.
He conceded that efforts were made to contact Hart about his abrupt resignation and departure from Trinidad and Tobago. "I made an effort to call him (Hart)...I did call him and he said he would have called me back but my phone, regrettably or for some reason, just went dead on me," Annisette said. "My Blackberry (mobile phone) just went dead. I was talking to (PNM founding member) Ferdie Ferreira at the time and it just went totally blank on me and I have not been able to get it operational. I had to borrow someone else's phone and put my Sim card in it." Annisette added that he was unable to get in contact with other Udecott board members since his mobile phone "has not been operational since about just after 1.30 pm" on Saturday.
"I do not know if they were trying to get in contact with me," he said. Annisette was also unable to indicate about the Udecott convening an emergency meeting to discuss its operations in the absence of a chairman. "Remember, he (Hart) was an executive chairman. He was not an ordinary chairman. The board cannot appoint an executive chairman," Annisette said. "That is the decision of the powers. We report to a line minister (Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde). We have to wait and see what decision is taken by the minister." He added that Hart appeared to be hounded out of office. "I can only judge somebody from my interface with the individual. I have been on the Udecott board from 2005 and I cannot accuse Mr Calder Hart and or any other members of the Udecott board of being involved in any impropriety or any corruption or any wrongdoing," Annisette said.
"And therefore that is what I need to judge people on. Not on any speculations and allegations and innuendoes. That is why I will continue to make that point until there is concrete and authentic evidence." Annisette added that he would neither hinder nor reject calls for a forensic audit to be conducted into Udecott and its operations. "I, Michael Anisette, have nothing to hide as a board member and whatever audit or whatever form of investigation they wish to take in terms of Udecott I have no problems with it whatsoever," he said.