Former foreign affairs ministers Paula Gopee-Scoon and Ralph Maraj say an article which appeared on the Reuters Web site indicating that Daryan Warner was assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in their investigations is of grave concern to this country and its international reputation.
Daryan, 45, is the son of National Security Minister Jack Warner and is currently in Florida.
Calls to the residence, yesterday, were unsuccessful as the operator indicated "the number is changed, disconnected or no longer in service."
According to the article, which was written by journalist Mark Hosenball, the younger Warner is assisting the FBI and IRS in their investigation into alleged corruption in a case which involved the international governing body for soccer, Fifa. The article said that National Security Minister Jack Warner was also of interest in the case.
Following the article going viral, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar issued a statement saying, "I will not rely on published reports in the media, but will seek to get official corroboration of the information now in the public domain before making any determination or pronouncement."
Prior to this statement, Persad-Bissessar was asked to comment three weeks ago, after an exclusive Sunday Guardian investigation revealed there was a sealed indictment into investigations of money laundering, tax evasion and fraud involving a government minister.
At the time, Persad-Bissessar said, "I would be very concerned about anybody's son, and indeed if it was one of my ministers."
She said then, however, that she had "no information on any minister's son who is in any circumstances abroad.
"I have no such information, advice or knowledge. I have asked..." Persad-Bissessar had said, though not indicating which agency, whether foreign or local she sought answers from.
Jack should not have been appointed
Speaking with the Sunday Guardian, Maraj, who served during the tenure December 1991-May 1995 under former prime minister Patrick Manning said, "From what I read, it is a very serious matter for the nation and I join the serious concerns people have with the continuance of Mr Warner in office."
Maraj said in his opinion Warner "should not have been appointed" in the Government, especially given the fact that Fifa allegations continue to plague him.
He said that Persad-Bissessar knew of the allegations, yet still she has defended Warner and the situation has been allowed to continue.
"This matter with the FBI clearly points to the serious nature of the situation and implicates Mr Warner to a certain extent and she (Persad-Bissessar) cannot duck the issue any more," Maraj said.
Making his position clear, Maraj said, "I'm not saying Mr Warner (J) is guilty," but there are allegations, suspicions and cause for concern over the entire matter.
Pointing out that Warner heads one of the most sensitive ministries which deals with intelligence gathering, Maraj said Warner needed to step aside from the Cabinet until "all is cleared up."
"It does this country's international reputation harm to have Mr Warner continue to hold office, while these clouds hang over him."
He should step aside–Gopee-Scoon
Gopee-Scoon also echoed Maraj's statements, saying that with the Reuters report one would be inclined to believe there are "some serious investigations ongoing, which may involve the Minister of National Security."
She said, "Questions of integrity are being asked and we must keep in mind the portfolio which Minister Warner holds."
Gopee-Scoon said the National Security Ministry was one in which integrity and character are key components and Minister Warner "should step aside since it is impossible and dangerous for someone like him who is managing the police service and other security agencies.
"It stands to reason, the only thing Minister Warner needs to do is resign. He has been called to account and cannot continue to hold this position. This Government has done untold damage to this country," Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the PM should never have appointed Warner as National Security Minister knowing fully well the constant allegations which surrounded him with Fifa.
"I expect within the next two days, the PM will announce either Mr Warner has been fired or that he has resigned," Gopee-Scoon said.
Ministers mum, PM is the spokesman
Security adviser to Persad-Bissessar, Gary Griffith, when contacted by Sunday Guardian on whether he will be taking any inquiries to the FBI or IRS on behalf of the PM, said "Anything pertaining to the matter will be made by the Prime Minister."
Asked whether the PM had issued a gag on the matter, Griffith said, "I think it's basic common sense and protocol that the PM be the person to make statements."
Efforts to contact Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran were unsuccessful, as several calls to his cell phone went unanswered and voice messages were not returned.
Calls to the cell phone of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan also went unanswered.
CoP: I am not answering any questions
When Sunday Guardian contacted acting CoP Stephen Williams and asked whether he made any inquiries through Interpol to ascertain whether the reports on the Warners were consistent, the top cop said, "I am not answering any questions."
Williams was also asked whether the PM or any government official contacted him and asked that he probe the matter.
His response: "I am not answering any questions posed to me...I have a challenge with the media...when I tell them X, they write Y.
"I have been very accommodating with the media and I am re-thinking this. I always make myself available to answer questions. In fact, I have been the most accommodating commissioner.
"Right now, I am having discussions with editors to find out the best way to deal with questions," Williams said.
Told several matters and the questions posed to him were of national interest, Williams agreed he has a responsibility to furnish the public with information, however, "self preservation is important."
"It's unfortunate that I have to spend time fixing the things the media print wrongly," he said.
Fixin' T&T wants PM to fix the issue
In a letter dated March 11, 2013, Fixin' T&T called on the PM to address the nation on published reports regarding the FBI and IRS probes.
"We again publicly call on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as chairperson of our National Security Council to immediately use all resources available to her as the leader of a sovereign nation to conduct thorough and efficient inquiries into this matter and report to the citizens of Trinidad & Tobago in a national address."
The group said it wished to remind the PM such reports have appeared globally and further creates the potential for our international reputation and national security to be compromised.
"The implications of these published reports mean that Trinidad and Tobago runs the risk of being classified as a pariah state if any of this is true.
If this occurs, it could mean that the Government of T&T will not be trusted by the international community to share information, particularly on security issues."
Who can the PM ask?
It's very simple if the PM wants to find out whether there is an FBI and IRS investigation in which Warner (D) is assisting and if Minister Warner is of interest in the case.According to Maraj, there are several avenues the PM, who heads the National Security Council, can access."The PM can have a private conversation through the US Ambassador here; she can also speak with the Minister of Foreign Affairs," he said.Maraj said the PM can even exercise diplomatic relations for such inquiries and can also use the Office of the Attorney General at her disposal."It is a matter of knowing what she has available...we have an embassy, we have Interpol relations with the State. The question is: which will be more effective? So she has a range to choose from," Maraj said.
He also pointed out that there is an FBI office in Trinidad and the US agencies are not obligated to brief T&T about their investigations.But, as PM, Maraj said, there can be some level of dialogue which can be conducted.He said the situation now presents Persad-Bissessar with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the seriousness which is lacking in her Government."She can restore some measure of credibility to her tenure if she takes such tough action. The more she delays, the deeper the suspicion, that as far as she's concerned, Minister Warner is untouchable."