“Produce the credit card records!” That’s the challenge to Government from former PNM Housing Development Corporation (HDC) managing director Noel Garcia. Garcia yesterday denied Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal’s claim that he still owed the Government $500,000 on a Government credit card. Moonilal stated that in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, claiming the debt dated back to a period when Opposition Leader Keith Rowley was Housing Minister. When Rowley asked Moonilal what the Government was doing to get the $500,000 back, Moonilal said: “That is a matter which will be before the court shortly, to which you may well be named.” Yesterday, speaking during a break in a board meeting in Ghana, where he is a business consultant, Garcia said he had read Moonilal’s statement in the online editions of the T&T’s daily newspapers.
Garcia added: “I wish to categorically deny the allegation. During my tenure as managing director of the HDC, no member of the board of directors or management was in possession of an HDC credit card. “Dr Moonilal must produce the so-called credit card concerning me which he is talking about. He must also produce the relevant credit card statement or the HDC board resolution and evidence that $500,000 was overdrawn in my name with such an HDC credit card.” Garcia said in 2007 the board of the HDC had approved a $141,000 loan he had requested to pay for medical treatment in London for his son, who was gravely ill. That loan, he said, was fully repaid, via salary deductions, which could be easily verified by looking at his payslips and the HDC’s financial records.
He added: “If Dr Moonilal had checked the HDC’s records he would have seen that there was no board resolution for the issue of any Government credit cards. “Indeed, there are no credit card statements, as the alleged credit card did not exist “Dr Moonilal would have realised that the question of HDC personnel having Government credit cards was a fabrication without any iota of truth.” Garcia said Moonilal’s statement had had the effect of “damaging my professional and business relationships in West Africa, traumatising my family and bringing me into public disrepute and odium. “ In the circumstances Garcia said he intended at the earliest opportunity to approach the Speaker of the House of Representatives to have the records corrected. Garcia said he was in Trinidad two weeks ago to give evidence at a civil court matter involving the HDC, but no one from HDC had mentioned the credit card claim to him.
He said the HDC paid his airfare from West Africa for him to attend the court. On Moonilal’s statement that the matter might soon be in court, Garcia said he also was investigating legal action in London against the Government, since Moonilal’s statements on the matter were carried on the Internet. Garcia said the international report also had damaged his professional reputation with a Swiss-based company with which he also did business. PNM public relations officer Faris al-Rawi held a media conference yesterday at the Opposition Leader’s office on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, at which he repeated Garcia’s denial of Moonilal’s allegations.