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Another member quits Integrity body

Published: 
Friday, July 25, 2014
Joel Edwards, left, as he was sworn in by President Anthony Carmona in May.

The Ken Gordon-led Integrity Commission has been left in the lurch once more by the resignation of accountant Joel C Edwards, only two months after he was sworn in. Edwards, an old boy of Presentation College, San Fernando, the President’s alma mater, has cited personal reasons for resigning, as did the commissioner he replaced, chartered accountant Seunarine Jokhoo.
Jokhoo, citing urgent fami­ly commitments, resigned in March, leaving the commission in a tailspin. 

Under the Integrity in Public Life Act, in order to function the commission must have at least one member who is a chartered or certified accountant. This latest resignation means that until President Carmona finds a replacement for Edwards, after consultation with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, the commission will again cease to function. Carmona is on vacation in the UK. 

When contacted yesterday, Edwards at first did not confirm his resignation, saying: "No, I don't know anything concerning that." Told that the Office of the President had issued a release to say so, Edwards then said he had submitted his resignation on Wednesday. Asked what his next step would be, he replied: "Well, I have a life to live." Edwards later said he had no regrets about leaving the commission at this time. At a later stage, he said, things could change and he would be able to come back either to the IC or some other commission to continue to serve.
“Because I have lived a life of service and I will continue to serve.”

“For now,” he said, “I don’t feel any regrets. The earlier the better. Rather than just being there and not contributing, it is better I move on and allow somebody who has the time and the space to make the contribution. I think that is the more responsible thing to do.” Asked if he did not understand the demands of the job before he accepted the offer, Edwards, from Gasparillo, South Trinidad, said he did not. “I did not anticipate the workload would have been so much. I did not ask the question, nor did I do the investigation myself when I was asked to do the job.” 
Edwards and his wife Dawne have two daughters.
 
He said: “I have found out it is quite demanding and my personal commitment would not allow me to give the time and effort to the level of excellence I am accustomed to with the organisations that I serve, plus I have bills to pay as well." Asked if there was an underlying reason for his not being able to continue serving, Edwards said: “Not in my case.” He said while he knew President Carmona from their school days at Presentation, they were not contemporaries and he did not think their relationship was the basis on which he was  approached to serve.

Edwards’ CV
Edwards is currently managing director at the Cyber Consulting Group Ltd. He joined the group on August 2006. His role, according to his Linked-in profile, is:  
• Advising new businesses on formation of corporations and business structures, drafting policies and procedures and structuring commercial transactions.
• Advising existing business on streamlining and enhancing their business performance. 
• Providing a variety of accounting and financial advice and services.
• October 2004 - July 2006 Chief Financial Officer at TSTT.
• 1995 - 1998 senior business development analyst, Trinidad Cement Ltd.
• Former credit union president.
• Liquidator of eight credit unions.
• Compiled report on Hindu Credit Union.

From 1973 to 1977, Edwards attended the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus.
He won a UWI Open Scholarsh­ip after placing first in the Carib­bean in the Modern Studies Division of the UWI Scholarship Examinati­on, earning his BSc and an MSc in management studies, accounting, as a post-graduate scholarship winner.
While at UWI, he was treasurer of the Guild of Undergraduates.