Calder Hart is "ready to return" to Trinidad and Tobago, his lawyer, Devesh Maharaj, says.
Maharaj dismissed statements that Hart fled T&T over the weekend. "The statement...that Mr Hart had fled the country on a one-way ticket to Florida is false and malicious," Maharaj wrote in a news release yesterday. "Mr Hart, who has no reason to flee the country, left T&T for Florida on Saturday on a regular return economy ticket. "Moreover, Mr Hart has given the assurance to the relevant authorities that he is ready to return home to T&T at short notice, if required." Hart left T&T hours after he resigned from five state boards on Saturday. He was accompanied by his wife Sherrine and daughter Jean. Their departure came less than 24 hours after High Court Justice Mira Dean-Armorer rejected requests on Friday from Hart's lawyers to stop submission of the report of the Commission of Enquiry into Udecott and the Local Construction Sector. Hart has been embroiled in allegations under his tenure as executive Udecott chairman. It was also alleged that the Canadian-born Hart funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of relatives of his wife's Malaysian family, through the award of Udecott contracts.
At least one Udecott board member, Anthony Cherry, expressed no reservations about Hart's abrupt departure from T&T. "He (Hart) goes out of the country all the time. He is probably stressed out. Quite frankly, I suppose he just wants to sit down and hang out and paddle in a pool for a couple of days before he comes back to the same frenzy," Cherry told the Trinidad Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon. When Cherry was asked about reports that Hart flew out to Florida on a one-way ticket, he laughed. "I do not think that is so, but in any event, he (Hart) has dual nationality. I think he can go to the States with a one-way ticket," Cherry said. "If he went on a one-way ticket, that was just probably quite administrative. He probably came in (to Trinidad) on a two-way ticket and he just used the ticket to come back out." Cherry added that Hart and another Udecott board member, Independent Senator Michael Annisette, appeared to be targets because of their political affiliations. Both Hart and Annisette were linked to the ruling People's National Movement (PNM).
"When people target you politically, no holds are barred in politics. Fellows like (Udecott board member Wendell) Dottin and me and so on, nobody interferes with us, because we have no political facets," Cherry said. "Annisette and Hart, those fellows are political figures. So you all are more interested in them than us. No one interferes with me." Cherry said Hart demonstrated "in no uncertain way that he has a hell of a broad back," from the criticisms that he faced as Udecott's executive chairman. He also said that Hart's resignation surprised him, because there was no need for Hart to resign. "I heard about it from the news. I heard it from friends who saw it on the news. People started calling me," Cherry said. "Well, yes. I have to say yes, (I was surprised). Because I never saw any reason for him to resign. And he has resigned and I still cannot find any reason for him to resign. So to that extent, it is a surprise.
"But if he cannot take the pressure anymore, and he says: look; you see me, I am an old man, I cannot take this thing anymore. I am going to 'lime.' "Then, perhaps, he is saying: 'why do I have to do this?'" Cherry stressed that "to the best of my knowledge, information and belief, there is not anything wrong with Udecott."