The Integrity Commission has said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar committed no breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act when she stayed at the home of a friend, businessman Ralph Gopaul, months after the May 24 general election last year.It was Opposition senator Fitzgerald Hinds who wrote to the Integrity Commission in May claiming the investigation was necessary in the wake of the company owned by Gopaul being selected as the preferred bidder for a $40 million contract at state-owned National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd.He claimed the Prime Minister was in breach of Section 27 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act. The NP transport contract, which was never awarded, was later scrapped.
Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Eric St Cyr, recused himself from the deliberations after commenting on it publicly.Persad-Bissessar announced the decision of the commission during yesterday's post-Cabinet news conference at her St Clair, Port-of-Spain, office.She did so moments after announcing the appointment of her permanent secretary, Reynold Cooper, as the new head of the Public Service.Persad-Bissessar said she had a letter, dated July 25, 2011, from the Integrity Commission and signed by the registrar of the commission, Martin Farrell.
It read, in part:
"The Integrity Commission has directed me to inform you that a letter of complaint, alleging a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act, Chapter 22:01, pertaining to your stay at the Gopaul's residence at Pasea, Tunapuna, has been received. The commission has considered the matter and rejected the complaint."With a smile, Persad-Bissessar said she was "very happy to have received this letter from the Integrity Commission that deals with this subject that had been in the public domain for quite sometime."Moments later, Persad-Bissessar left the room for other engagements in her office.