You are here
Integrity Commission begins boxing probe
The Integrity Commission has officially commenced a probe into three Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs officials for alleged misbehaviour in public office. Sport Minister Anil Roberts, his permanent secretary Ashwin Creed and the T&T Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) special adviser Boxu Potts are under investigation relating to allegations of conflict of interest, a breach of proper procedures and hiring practices at the ministry. When contacted yesterday chairman of the commission Ken Gordon did not deny the commencement of the probe but said he was unable to comment on the matter at this time. “You know it is not our business to say what we have started to do or not,” Gordon said.
The D’Abadie/O’Meara Member of Parliament is the first Cabinet minister to be under investigation by the commission since the People’s Partnership assumed office more than 18-months ago. It was the vociferous Roberts who called on his former colleague Mary King to step down when allegations surfaced involving a relative. King’s appointment as Minister of Planning and the Economy was subsequently terminated. The Sunday Guardian understands that the commission’s investigators—Andrew John and Lester Nicholas—commenced investigations on February 2 following allegations of misbehaviour in public office by former TTBBC board member Ricardo Phillip. The investigators, Sunday Guardian learnt, interviewed Phillip on Thursday in relation to the allegations. Phillip confirmed to Sunday Guardian yesterday that he was questioned by the investigators in relation to the complaint against the three officials.
“Yes, I was interviewed by the commission in specific areas relating to matter. All I would say at this point is that I was questioned in relation to Potts’ contract, funding for professional boxing cards and the hiring of people at TTBBC. I was also asked if I was given reasons or told what were the grounds for my dismissal from the board and I was unable to say because I was never told. This is all I am prepared to say at this point because the matter is now the subject of an ongoing investigation,” the former board member stated. indicating Phillip was sacked from the board days after he refused to support the granting of a $1.9 million boxing card to Unified Promoter’s Boxing Association that is owned by Giovanni Potts, who is the son of Boxu Potts. Also sacked was president of the board Abduul Haqq while board members Janette Dennis and Mala Nasib were allegedly terminated for failing to carry out directives. The $1.9 million grant was expected to fund a Boxing Day (December 26) card scheduled for Jean Pierre Complex, Port-of-Spain.
However, following a Sunday Guardian exposé, the ministry back-peddled, suspending the disbursement of funds and indicating that the ministry was not prepared to support the venture. Phillip wrote to the Integrity Commission in December alleging a conflict of interest between TTBBC special adviser and his son Giovanni, who is also a boxing promoter. Phillip also alleged that the attorney on the board was not privy to several benefits listed in Potts’ contract. According to the contract, apart from the $15,000 retainer fee, Potts also receives the following monthly benefits:
• Automobile allowance—$ 3,500
• House allowance—$5,000
• Phone allowance—$1,500
All other expenses incurred by Potts in relation to travel, accommodation, meals and per diem are paid by the board. In his letter to the commission Phillip, who was also a member of the technical committee, stated that he raised issue with the $1.9 million boxing card after Potts allegedly vilified him for approving a $986,000 boxing card for Sure Promotions. Phillip also alleged that the hiring procedure used to recruit the office manager was not above board and cited breach of confidentiality. In his complaint to the commission, Phillip further claimed that board members were threatened after issues were raised over the $5,000 per month salaries that were paid to three people.
Four attempts to contact Roberts by telephone for a comment on the matter proved futile yesterday afternoon and up to press time the minister also failed to respond to a text message sent to his cellular phone. However, when Sunday Guardian contacted Creed he said the commission did not inform him of the investigation. “I have not been informed that I am being investigated. Today is the first time I am hearing that I being investigated,” Creed stated. Attempts to contact Potts were also unsuccessful.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.