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More questions than answers (with CNC3 video)
After several loud coughing fits, businessman Robert Nandlal, a member of the Hindu Credit Union and supporter of president Harry Harnarine, entered the witness box at the Clico/HCU Commission of Enquiry at the Winsure Building, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. However, it remained unclear as to exactly what Nandlal’s testimony was really about.
Several lawyers declined to cross-examine him and lone commissioner Sir Anthony Colman put a speedy end to his testimony by telling him, “Thank you, Mr Nandlal.” Nandlal said he and a group of Harnarine supporters were called hooligans and sought to explain this was not so.
He asked if somebody in the courtroom could show him HCU liquidator Dave Rampersad, who he claimed he never met, and wanted to know if there was a riot squad outside the building. British Queen’s Counsel Edwin Glasgow, cross-examining Nandlal, reminded him of what he said in his witness statement regarding special general meetings (SGMs) which he said were well-attended.
Glasgow also read a letter from an anonymous member to the Commissioner of Co-operatives in March 2002, claiming members were not informed of SGMs. He wanted to Nandlal to tell him if SGMs were well-attended. Nandlal, in response, said he only attended one SGM and then evaded the question.
“I am here as a sort of witness. I only became active in 2008. I didn’t know anything about what went on before.” He said when the HCU opened the Food Corporation he was the first person who went and purchased items there.
Glasgow brought him back to a special general meeting in September 2008 which Harnarine said turned into a gun battle between HCU security and the police. He reminded Nandlal that he had said he thought it was unnecessary for members to be told not to bring alcohol and weapons to the meeting.
Nandlal replied, “I was prepared to ask the commission today if the Riot Squad was outside. Could anybody show me the liquidator please?” Glasgow said, “No, no, no.” Nandlal said a group of HCU supporters, “mostly old ladies” went to see Rampersad at the HCU headquarters in Chaguanas and the Riot Squad turned up.
Recalling the 2008 SGM, he said, “The media said Rampersad’s car tyres were slashed but the police told him to drive away. I don’t know how he could drive away with slashed tyres.”
After Commissioner Colman told him “Thank you,” he went across to Rampersad and shook his hand. Another witness, Wendy Hosang, former Central Bank inspector, also testified yesterday. She said the HCU never applied for approval to be the main shareholder in Bankers Insurance and this was in breach of the law.
Attorney for Harnarine Farid Scoon, cross-examining her, said he had instructions to deny that a non-objection was ever given to the HCU being a major shareholder in this subsidiary. “We never gave a non-objection,” Hosang insisted.
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