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Secret prevents PM from taking action
A dirty little secret in relation to corruption charges being slapped against two former People’s National Movement ministers is said to be one of the main reasons why Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is hesitant to take decisive action following the Section 34 imbroglio. But sources say while decisive action was taken against Mary King and Collin Partap, some Cabinet members are arguing that the greater good would be to protect the Government from the implications of any fallout if such action is taken.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Sunday Guardian learned, has confided in close allies that she was duped into believing the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 was aimed at easing the backlog of cases before the nation’s courts and not intended to pave the way to freedom for United National Congress financiers, Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
A Cabinet source told the Sunday Guardian that while Section 34 of the controversial act has been repealed, the Prime Minister remains disturbed by the turn of the events. “The Prime Minister is very upset over what transpired. The Prime Minister was taken by surprise by the controversial clause, but moved to immediately correct what happened. She wasted absolutely no time,” the Cabinet source said.
The Sunday Guardian understands several members of the Cabinet have also expressed concern over the impact the turn of events could have on the Government and have suggested to the Prime Minister that tough decisions may have to be made.
It is said that the rush to have the controversial clause proclaimed was part of a conspiracy to have the fraud charges arising out of the Piarco Airport scandal dropped. An alleged conspiracy, according to well-placed sources, also led to former PNM government ministers Franklin Khan and Eric Williams facing the courts when corruption charges surfaced more than nine years ago. The charges against both ministers were dropped owing to unreliable evidence that failed to demonstrate a prima facie case.
A current government official was fingered as the mastermind in that conspiracy. Police refused to say yesterday whether that matter is still engaging the attention of investigators. It is alleged the plot came about because an official had stopped receiving jobs due to the change of board members at National Petroleum when Khan was appointed Energy Minister under the Patrick Manning government.
The plot was allegedly hatched at a beach resort in Mayaro and a document was drafted implicating Khan and Williams in accepting bribes and seismic contracts. Copies of the correspondence were also forwarded to Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the Siparia MP, who read out the contents of one of the letters during a sitting of Parliament in April 2005. Persad-Bissessar told Parliament she had found the letter in her mailbox.
On the basis of the allegations, Manning referred the letter to former attorney general John Jeremie, who handed it over to the Integrity Commission for investigation by Assistant Commissioner of Police Wellington Virgil of the Special Branch. Both Khan and Williams were subsequently charged but later freed. Investigations revealed the letter was suspect. Several text messages sent to the Prime Minister seeking responses remained unanswered up to yesterday.
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