Minister of National Security Stuart Young has confirmed he has reports before him of people allegedly engaged in criminal activity who have been given state contracts and intends to act on it.
Young made the comment at a media conference at the ministry’s Port-of-Spain headquarters yesterday, as he responded to a questions over a Guardian Media report that a top-secret National Security document had identified several of the men arrested during last week’s anti-gang sweep, who are suspected gang leaders, as having benefited from lucrative government contracts.
According to the article, the document traced the men’s affiliations to companies which received multi-million dollar State contracts over the past 14 years. The 17-page report was compiled by Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith back in 2014 when he served as national security minister.
Yesterday, Young admitted that he first heard of the 2014 report via the newspaper article and had since asked for the report.
“One of the things I’ve asked for is to be provided with those reports with respect to any accusations and allegations on persons who are allegedly engaged in criminal activity to be provided to me, for me to see and identify where are the particular areas,” Young said.
“Those reports have been now provided to me and I’m in the process of going through it and intend to action on it.”
In the article, former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said he was not sure there was a report on the issue but said he knew back then that Griffith had a “deep concern with an alleged link between state contracts and criminal elements benefiting from same.” Moonilal did add that Griffith raised the matter with him and claimed they both were then collaborating to deal with the matter within the confines of the law.
However, Young said he did contact Griffith on it and was told that at the time it was tabled by him (Griffith) and taken before the Cabinet but was met with great resistance.
“It is quite hypocritical that Dr Moonilal, who would have been part of Cabinet as a senior member of the then government, to sit on that report 2014 and him now trying to cover his tracks and say that they had intelligence operations that they trying to do something. The facts speak for themselves and it is that down to the very last minute that the UNC government continue to encourage that type of criminality through the various programmes that they had and the various contracts that they continued to give out to the criminal elements,” Young said.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Moonilal said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley must now take resolute action against the ministers under whose watch contracts were issued to gangsters.
“He must also ensure that all such contracts are revoked as soon as it is legally possible to do so. Dr Rowley must act swiftly and decisively in these matters, otherwise he would be as guilty as former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who legitimised gang leaders through an official meeting on September 16, 2006,” Moonilal said.
He added that Rowley “must shun his natural and senseless tendency to blame the previous government and instead move with alacrity to stem the bloodletting that has made Trinidad and Tobago one of the most violent countries in the world.”
“Despite his well-worn track record of failure, Dr Rowley must now assist law enforcement agencies by acting on the significant findings in the two highly instructive reports,” Moonilal said.