After claiming for months they knew the whereabouts of former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Calder Hart and could contact him at any time, senior police officials are now admitting they have asked Interpol to help locate him. That revelation, which has cast a new light on investigations into the construction of the controversial Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ Church, at Heights of Guanapo, Arima, has drawn strong criticism from Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs, in his first media briefing yesterday said the police were seeking assistance from Interpol in locating Hart, as well as Rev Juliana Pena, alleged spiritual advisor to former prime minister Patrick Manning.
Both are key figures in the matter of the construction of the multi-million dollar church, using Chinese workers from the Shanghai Construction Group (SCG). It was alleged that State funds were used to fund the project which was spearheaded by Pena. Gibbs told reporters the investigations were at a sensitive stage and "we do have international partners that we work with regularly and can assist us on any information we may need that goes beyond the borders of T&T." Early in the investigations, which got going during the tenure of former acting Police Commissioner James Philbert, police said they knew Hart's whereabouts and even his phone number and could contact him at anytime.
In response to the latest developments, AG Ramlogan said: "Even when I assumed office I was informed by my predecessor, John Jeremie, that the police were fully aware of Hart's whereabouts. "I was always under the clear and distinct impression that the investigators, even the Police Commissioner, always knew where Hart is because this is something they always maintained. "So I cannot understand how they are saying they don't know where Hart is." Hart left T&T in April this year and there were reports that he currently resides in Miami, Florida. Pena, who has addresses in Arima and the United States, reportedly left the country on October 13. Ramlogan said Pena's whereabouts always had been "another story. "She seems to be a rather elusive ghost to the police," he commented.
Assistant Police Commissioner in charge of Crime, Harold Phillip, said the probe involving Hart and Pena was of "national importance" and was "very extensive, intricate and complex. "We have various teams of officers assigned to various aspects of these investigations and they are presently ongoing," he said. Asked why Hart and Pena had not been interviewed by local police while they were in the country Phillip said: "At the appropriate time all persons in these matters will be interviewed." When reporters pressed Gibbs for further information on the status of the investigations, he said they were ongoing and details could not be discussed. "We cannot divulge our investigation as far as what we have done or where the investigation may lead. It is an ongoing investigation where we need to seek international assistance," he said.