Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Ashwin Creed, can now put the spectre of the controversial Life Sport programme behind as he has gone home on pre-retirement leave.This was confirmed by the Head of the Public Service Reynold Cooper yesterday.Creed has been on extended leave of absence since May and will remain on pre-retirement leave until April next year, Cooper told the T&T Guardian.
This means Creed will effectively not return to work until he attains retirement age.Attorney for Creed, Peter Taylor, a former legal affairs minister, has said that Creed was attending to family business in the United States and has had to seek extended leave to complete the matter.Creed was one of the Sport Ministry officials who were questioned during the audit into the programme after claims it was plagued by fraud, theft, questionable payments and other criminal activities.
He was asked to return home from the US in July to be questioned by the Ministry of Finance and the Economy's central audit committee.The report was subsequently presented in Parliament on July 25 by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.After giving the details of what she called a damning report to the House, Persad-Bissessar announced its immediate termination and said:
"For those who really sought to improve their lives and positively benefit from this programme, I am sorry that this had to happen."I have accepted the recommendations of the audit committee and the Attorney General has been instructed to turn the report over to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of Police to investigate, detain and prosecute those guilty to the fullest extent of the law.
"Given the fact that the Central Audit Committee has raised the possibility of complicity by ministry officials, the report will be sent to the Integrity Commission and the head of the Public Service for further investigation, consideration and action."
Cooper also received a copy of the report for further investigation.
Anil Roberts, who was the Minister of Sport, days later resigned as minister and MP with immediate effect and has vowed to clear his name.The allegations of wrongdoing were allegedly committed while the programme was under Roberts's portfolio. It was later removed to the National Security Ministry and disbanded.Roberts was temporarily replaced by Science and Technology Minister Dr Rupert Griffith. No permanent appointment has been made.
Attempts to contact Creed and Taylor were unsuccessful yesterday.
PS transferred again
Meanwhile, permanent secretary Juliana Johan-Boodram, who was transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister from the Tourism Ministry in June, after travelling to Argentina as part of a T&T delegation to watch the Soca Warriors play Argentina without informing Cooper, is now at the Ministry of the Attorney General.At the Office of the PM, Johan-Boodram acted as accounting officer during Cooper's absence in July.
Cooper had referred Johan-Boodram to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for investigation following her absence without permission but no information has been released from the PSC to date. She is due to go on vacation leave on Monday.Cooper yesterday confirmed she had been "assigned" to the Ministry of the Attorney General.Johan-Boodram said she forgot to tell Cooper about the trip but it was not at the expense of the state.