Roger Gaspard wasted no time yesterday, as moments after receiving his instruments as T&T's new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), he met with a high-powered police team to begin investigations into allegations made against Calder Hart, the former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott).
Gaspard met yesterday with acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert and head of the Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB), Senior Supt Terry Young, at his Winsure building offices to discuss a letter sent to him on March 3, from Prakash Ramadhar, deputy political leader of the Congress of the People (COP). The letter contained allegations of an apparent family link between Hart and a company which was awarded $820 million in contracts by Udecott, to build government offices. At the end of the meeting, Gaspard, in a telephone interview, said he gave the police certain directions and lines of inquiries to follow in their investigations. While he said the letter contained allegations, Gaspard said if these turned out to be true, then certain criminal offences would have been committed, including conspiracy to defraud the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, perjury and misbehaviour in public office. Despite the meeting with the police officials, Gaspard has sent off a letter to Philbert, outlining the procedures and his directions given yesterday.
Gaspard said the letter raised issues under the Integrity in Public Life Act 2000, and the Prevention of Corruption Act. He said after he received the letter from Ramadhar on March 3, he spent the weekend perusing the documents which included copies of birth and marriage certificates which appear to link Hart's wife Sherrine, to Sunway Construction Caribbean Ltd, the company which was awarded the expensive contract to construct the new Ministry of Legal Affairs tower in Port-of-Spain. COP officials contend that they received the documents from Malaysia. The police investigations would have to reach as far as Malaysia. Investigators would need to get certified copies of the births and marriage certificates, statements from the Malaysian officials who handed them over, and even witnesses who know the people named on the documents. The investigations, according to police sources, would be done along the same lines as was done when there was a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act, where the police went to England, and when local investigators had to go to Florida to tie up loose ends with the Piarco Airport corruption case. "This will be a very detailed and thorough investigation. It would not be so easy, as we do not know what we would encounter abroad, and whether in the absence of an extradition treaty and other treaties, we would get the co-operation of the other government," the police source added.
?Gaspard humble at appointment
?After six months in the job, Roger Gaspard was finally appointed Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Gaspard, 46, received his instrument of appointment shortly after 1 pm yesterday. The appointment was retroactive to September 17, 2009, the first day when he started acting in the post, after Carla Brown-Antoine was elevated to the High Court bench.
Gaspard has been at the DPP's office since 1994. Before that, he had been in private practice for four years, two of which were spent in the civil arena. The appointment was made by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and approved by Prime Minister Patrick Manning. Gaspard says he remains humble by the appointment.