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Rowley: I called Vidya too

Friday, September 22, 2017

A&V Oil and Gas owner Nazim Baksh was not the only person named in the Petrotrin audit who Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called after hearing the news. Rowley also called Petrotrin employee Vidya Deokiesingh after word of the energy company’s alleged “fake oil” issue broke recently.

At yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Rowley confirmed calling Deokiesingh, whose name came up following Petrotrin’s August internal audit report on alleged volume discrepancies and under-supply and overpayment to a private contractor.

Rowley said he contacted Deokiesingh to find out what it was all about.

“I spoke to him and he gave me an explanation. He was a PNM general election candidate. I screened him at least once and he was also in a corporation,” Rowley said.

However, he brushed off Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s claim that his call to Baksh about the Petrotrin issue constituted misconduct in office.

“What nonsense is that? I wasn’t being judge and jury. I was in California and this came up on my phone.” Rowley said.

“I know the man very well, I know his business and what he’s involved in. Is it abnormal that I called to find out what this was all about?”

Rowley, who maintained Baksh is his friend, said he is “standing by that ... I don’t know how, by making a phone call, that constitutes misconduct.”

He added that Petrotrin is still looking at the matter and a probe is ongoing. Asked if he was satisfied with Baksh’s apology following last week’s attack on T&T Guardian photographer Kristian de Silva, Rowley said it wasn’t for him to be satisfied.