Don’t disadvantage the poor and middle class.
That was the Opposition’s appeal to Government yesterday on the eve of today’s 2017 budget delivery.
The Integrity Commission has summoned the heads of several state agencies to account for “donations” allegedly given to Jack Warner to fund a ministry Christmas party while he was a government minister. The T&T Guardian understands that the letters were issued as the commission starts its investigation into allegations that Warner wrote to contractors, including businessman Junior Sammy, asking for monetary contributions to throw a Christmas party for ministry staff during his tenure.
Warner, now leader of the Independent Liberal Party, is a former National Security Minister and Works and Infrastructure Minister. On Tuesday the T&T Guardian saw one of the letters, dated March 20, sent to the head of a state agency. Given the sensitive nature of the matter, the recipient requested anonymity. The letter summoned the individual to a meeting at the commission’s office, 82 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, to account for a contribution allegedly made to Warner.
Yesterday when contacted, the commission’s chief communications and public relations officer, Mervyn Crichlow, said: “I cannot comment on any investigation that may or may not be before the commission.” Warner confirmed he was aware of the investigation and had no qualms about it. He said: “I am aware of the investigation but what you want me to do? They have their work to do. Let them do their work. They have the work to do. I have no problem with that.
Other IC Probes into Warner
“Listen, allegations are made every day, every week, every year. I am not interested in that.”
This investigation is not the only Integrity Commission investigation involving Warner. In January the commission announced it was investigating allegations of fraud against him in an April 2013 report from the Integrity Committee of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).
That report alleged that Warner committed fraud against Concacaf and Fifa in connection with the Centre of Excellence and the financial statements of Concacaf during his tenure as Fifa vice-president and Concacaf president. In January the commission said it had written to President Anthony Carmona in accordance with Section 15 of the Integrity in Public Life Act asking for a tribunal to be appointed to inquire further into declarations submitted by Warner.
What the law says
The commission, in the letter summoning the head of the state agency, cited Section 34 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, sub-section (c).
The sub-section says in carrying out its function under Section 33, to investigate claims of corrupt or dishonest conduct, “the commission may require any person, within a specified time, to provide any information or to answer any question which the commission considers necessary in connection with any enquiry or investigation which the commission is empowered to conduct under this act.”