If one were to consider some of top areas where the Caribbean is well-known for punching above its weight, one could count, in no specific order: sport (particularly of the sprint variety), the...
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Warner: Life Sport audit a sham
The Ministry of Finance’s audit into the Life Sport programme is a sham, says Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner. He made the comment yesterday after revealing that Life Sport deputy director Ruth Marchan, who is under 24-hour police protection, is yet to be interviewed on the programme, which has since been terminated by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“Therefore that Life Sport audit is a sham if all the information wasn’t sought and (former Sports Minister) Anil (Roberts) isn’t the biggest villain in the issue and he’s at best a scapegoat,” Warner said yesterday. He said Government ministers in whose constituencies the programme operated should also have been interviewed by the Finance Ministry during the audit and should now be interviewed by the police and for any other probes of the now terminated programme.
Warner spoke after Finance Minister Larry Howai said at last Thursday’s weekly Government press conference that the police had spoken to several Finance staffers to get more information on the audit, which was recently done by the ministry and which found several irregularities in the programme. Defending the report against accusations of inaccuracy, Howai said the ministry had asked for certain information which was not forthcoming and “we never got it despite asking.”
But Warner said Marchan, who had liaised with him, is still in T&T under police protection —following the murder of her bodyguard—and the ministry could have easily obtained input if they wanted. But up to yesterday she still had not been contacted by anyone. “All they had to do was contact the police and I’m sure the situation could have been sorted out to get any information they needed from her, but nobody spoke to her as of today and she was the director of the programme,” Warner said.
Warner said he’s in touch with Marchan and “some day’s she okay, other days she’s depressed...” “Without input from all concerned, it’s obvious the audit won’t have all the relevant information and will be a sham, deliberately so. Nothing will come of this until after June 2015, since this is too politically explosive for the Government and several ministers,” he said.
Warner, who said he was in the Cabinet when the programme was launched in 2011, claimed Life Sport was done in all constituencies save his Chaguanas West seat. He said he deliberately stayed far from it. “If a proper probe has to be done, all ministers in whose areas the Life Sport operated should be interviewed by the police. As responsible MPs they should have known, even if indirectly, what was happening with the programme in their areas and should now be asked about procurement, quality control and other issues.”
Former Sport Minister and D’abadie/O’meara MP Anil Roberts resigned from both positions days after Persad-Bissessar terminated the programme on July 25, after announcing in Parliament that the audit showed major irregularities and possible wrong doing on the part of officials involved.
Warner, who said he didn’t think the police had the competence, staff or willingness to properly probe the issue, said a probe should also be done by a forensic investigator like Bob Lindquist. He noted that the Prime Minister, replying to questions at a recent Parliamentary launch, said police could engage any services to probe the matter.