WALTER ALIBEY & ROSEMARIE SANT
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Carapo activist shoots down claims
Fabrications and lies.
These were the words community activist Rajaee Ali used to describe allegations linking him to a number of criminal offences, including possible corruption in a government outreach programme. Speaking with the T&T Guardian at his mosque at Evergreen, Carapo, after leading evening prayers last week, Ali, a former murder accused and co-ordinator of the Ministry of Sport’s controversial Life Sport programme in that area, claimed many of the allegations against him and his organisation were unfounded and unproven.
Ali’s father Hassan runs the eastern arm of the Jamaat al Muslimeen. “It is total lies. I want them to prove to the nation that the things they saying is true, because they just come and lie and paint a picture of me,” Ali said. Throughout the interview, Ali adamantly denied that he and his family were profiting from millions of dollars in government funding allegedly obtained through “ghost gangs” in the programme.
“Where is the money? It is not like if it is $10,000. That kind of money can't hide,” Ali said as he responded to accusations that he had been earning more than $1 million a month during his participation in the programme. “You can't get nothing for free so. It have no way that they could prove that we get any free money. We do we work, and we get paid for it.
“They (the ministry) does send auditors and everything to make sure that things complete and it up to standard. Then you does get paid. We ain't have no ghost gang. So what they lying on people for?” Ali said. Pointing at his brother’s luxury SUV and producing a fistful of receipts for inspection, Ali said: “Don’t watch the car. We have to pay for it every month just like everybody else.”
He also said the programme was not his and his family’s only source of income, as he said his family had been running several businesses, including a quarry in east Trinidad, for a number of years. “We have been investigated by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and they can't find anything. So where the money?” Ali asked. Since the interview, new allegations have surfaced linking Ali to alleged inconsistencies in the programme.
Ali also lamented that he would probably lose the control of the programme as a result of the allegations.