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Jwala gets green light to pursue lawsuit against Imbert
Former Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran is accusing Finance Minister Colm Imbert of sabotaging his appointment as a senior advisor with US G-24 Secretariat because of a political and personal vendetta.
Rambarran made the accusation in his affidavit as he sought and was granted leave yesterday by Justice Frank Seepersad in the San Fernando High Court to apply for judicial review against Imbert’s refusal to release through his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) application for any communication the minister had with the G-24 director about him. The judge fixed the first case management hearing for November 22.
Rambarran, in his affidavit, said since the revocation of his appointment as governor on December 23, 2015, he has been having difficulty sourcing alternative employment.
He said in March 2016 the Washington-based G-24, of which T&T is a member, invited applications for the position of senior advisor, an operational role.
T&T has been represented by the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor who serve as “Minister and Deputy”, respectively at G-24 meetings, stated Rambarran. In fact, Rambarran said during his tenure as governor he functioned at ‘Minister/Deputy’ levels at G-24 meetings, headed official delegations of meetings of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, G-24 and Commonwealth Secretariat.
Rambarran said in April 2016 he applied and in July 2016 he was interviewed by a panel comprising G-24 director, Marilou Uy and three other G-24 officials from the Executive Director Officers at the IMF and World Bank.
He said on August 3, 2016, he accepted an offer of employment from the G-24 Secretariat and negotiations had reached an advance stage when things began hitting a snag.
He said on August 16, 2016 he received an email from the director stating that she needed to address “the sensitivity” that the minister might have on his appointment. Rambarran said he formed the impression that the minister was seeking to undermine and prevent his appointment.
“I was very surprised and confused by this development,” stated Rambarran who explained that it was not unusual for former governors to obtain similar jobs at international organisatons.
Rambarran said on October 28, 2016, the director informed him that she had not received any word from the minister and if he was still interested the job she would be taking the next step in the recruitment process, including processing his H-18 passport.
Rambarran indicated that he was still interested and received confirmation on November 28, 2016, that his H-18 passport petition had been approved.
“On that same day, I also received a telephone call from the G-24 director, indicating that she had received ‘very damaging’ correspondence from the Minister of Finance about me.
She said it appeared to be a personal attack as he was totally against the G-24 hiring me as a senior advisor,” stated Rambarran.
He said he conveyed his shock and surprise to the director as the position was not a political one, but purely an administrative job.
“I indicated that I felt I was the victim of political bias. I informed the director that the minister has a personal political vendetta against me and it was the only explanation for his actions, “ the former governor said.
Rambarran said he also indicated to the director that the minister had a conflict of interest because he was instrumental in the revocation of his appointment as governor. He said the director inquired if he knew any top PNM official who could speak to the minister with a view to am amicable resolution.
He said on December 29, 2016, he was informed by email from the director, that the G-24 “had decided not to go ahead with closing on the offer for the senior advisor role.”
Rambarran said if the minister did make those damaging remarks about him then he is utilizing his position “in the furtherance of the execution of a personal and political vendetta that is based on political bias to victimise me.” Rambarran indicated he had applied for several other positions with international organisation but he fears that his candidacy will face a similar fate if and when the minister is contacted. Rambarran subsequently made an official application under the FOIA for any/and all correspondence, references and recommendation during the period June 2016 and January 2017 between the minister
G-24 in relation to himself. Rambarran, through his attorneys Anand Ramlogan SC, Douglas Bayley and Kavita Sarran, is challenging the minister’s position that the requested documents were except under the FOIA.
When contacted via WhatsApp for an official comment yesterday, Imbert replied, “That matter is still subjudice and as such I am unable to comment at this time.”