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Karen denies hugging and kissing Harry (with CNC3 video)
Finance minister in the last PNM administration, Karen Tesheira, is denying Harry Harnarine, former Hindu Credit Union (HCU) president, found a bag she lost in South Africa and returned it to her and she hugged and kissed him. Tesheira also admitted former HCU CEO Ravi Bachan assisted her in her general election campaign in D’Abadie/O’Meara in 2007 but insisted she had no personal relationship with Harnarine and no dealings with him prior to the closure of the HCU in 2008.
She also denied she used her influence to get Bachan on the board of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Her disclosures came yesterday during cross-examination by Farid Scoon, attorney for Harnarine, at the Clico/HCU commission of enquiry at the Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain.
When Scoon put it to her that Harnarine found a lost bag during a trip to Johannesburg after which she hugged and kissed him, she seemed shaken by the claim. “That is not true. I never lost a bag. It was someone else’s bag. Mr Harnarine has a very vivid imagination,” she said.
Tesheira said she did not know Harnarine before she came into office in 2007 and if she did meet him, it certainly escaped her mind. She said she could not even remember meeting him through her deceased husband Russell Tesheira who worked at Clico where Harnarine was also a former employee.
She said her dealings with him were only as HCU president and that he told a lot of untruths. She seemed to become more uncomfortable when Scoon put it to her she called Harnarine and asked him for assistance in her election campaign. “My Harnarine never met you in connection with this?” he asked.
Tesheira replied: “I can’t recall. My campaign manager may have had.” Scoon said: “He put you in touch with Bachan to assist you in your campaign.” She replied: “Mr Harnarine may have put my campaign manager in touch with Bachan.” She admitted she developed a good working relationship with Bachan but denied she used her influence to get him an appointment on the HDC board.
“I don’t do that. I don’t get involved in other ministries’ business,” Tesheira said. She said after the collapse of the HCU, Harnarine went to former prime minister Patrick Manning for help and she was instructed to see how she could assist. Harnarine suggested the Government could help by purchasing two Chaguanas properties for $71 million, she said.
She said she wanted to help because the HCU was made of a lot of sugarcane farmers who had put all their faith in the credit union and were at risk of losing everything. Negotiations broke down because he wanted too much she said. Another major factor was that she felt he could not be trusted, she said.
Tesheira threw blame for the closure of the HCU on the Commissioner of Co-operatives (CoC) who had power under legislation to close down the credit union. The government, she said, does not have such power and while it may have had a view on the matter and expressed it, did not direct the CoC.
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