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Griffith on Creed’s leave of absence: We can’t force him to return
The Government cannot mandate Permanent Secretary in the Sport Ministry Ashwin Creed to return to the country to give evidence in the current audit of the Life Sport programme. But if the audit reveals financial irregularities and the need to lay charges, the Government can use special agencies like Interpol to bring perpetrators back to T&T to face the courts, National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday.
He was responding to a Sunday Guardian article which quoted Creed as saying he was due to retire soon, raising public speculation yesterday that he may not return home to participate in the audit, which is being conducted by the Finance Ministry. “I have 33-and-a-third years service, and I have accumulated 250 days unused leave since I have not taken leave for 12 years...I left on personal and family business as I am entitled to do,” Creed had said.
Creed in reported to be in the United States on family business, but said he was willing to answer any questions regarding an audit. He has been on leave from the ministry since May 13.
In response to questions as to whether Creed had not been asked to return to facilitate the audit, Griffith said, “The government or any law enforcement agency has no authority to mandate anyone to return to the country. When the audit is completed, depending on what the conclusions are it would now be up to the police commissioner to determine the next course of action regrading charges. “If that is the case this government has a very good relationship with our foreign allies particularily those in the United States.”
He said the Government was not shirking its responsibility, but there was a certain course of action to be followed, which must include the completion of the audit. In May, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar directed Finance Minister Larry Howai to initiate an audit into the programme and transferred it out of the Sport Ministry to the Ministry of National Security, amid reports of corruption and that it was funding criminal elements.
On when Creed would be interviewed, Griffith said such matters fell under the purview of the Finance Ministry since it was responsible for the audit. “I am not getting involved in that aspect,” Griffith said. Calls to Howai’s cell phone yesterday went voicemail. An e-mail was also sent to Howai but there was no reply.
Newsday probes employee
The Newsday newspaper has launched an investigation into a report that its sport reporter Walter Alibey benefited from a Life Sport programme contract. In an media report yesterday, Alibey, the owner of Agro Aggressive Organisation and Maintenance Services Ltd, said he started the company in 2011 and was the recipient of a Life Sport contract. In a press release yesterday, Newsday editor-in-chief Jones P Madeira said the media house had started its own inquiries into the matter.
“Newsday is confident, however, that its approaches to related stories it has published on the Life Sport issues have not been compromised, and assures its readers that the newspaper remains committed to the highest journalistic principles in the conduct of its editorial affairs,” Madeira said.