Former Minister in the Ministry of National Security Subhas Panday is questioning why Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley did not report to police, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's alleged tip-off of the impending arrest of Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald.
Speaking at his San Fernando law chambers today, Panday said that under Section 51 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), Persad-Bissessar's action would have constituted a crime.
Section 51 (1) states that a person commits an offence if he knows or suspects that a police officer is acting or is proposing to act in connection with an investigation, which is being or is about to be conducted into money laundering and he discloses to any other person, information or any other matter which is likely to prejudice that investigation or proposed investigation.
McDonald, the former Public Administration Minister, was charged last August with defrauding the State and misbehaviour in public office. In the Parliament last week, Rowley revealed that Persad-Bissessar told McDonald of her arrest, a month before it happened. His revelation was supported by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. A day later, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith disputed a leak within the Police Sevice, saying that several weeks before the arrest, there was no new evidence that warranted McDonald's arrest. The UNC has accused the Government of lying, questioning whether the statement was a ploy to help McDonald escape prosecution.
For Panday, these allegations should be investigated.
"Having obtained knowledge of an alleged criminal offence being committed, why did you not uphold the law and cause an inquiry in an attempt to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice? Did your actions or lack thereof amount to the offence of misbehaviour in public office and the police should investigate? Why did you not wait for a month? The behaviour of the government would be tantamount to misbehaviour in public office.
"The Prime Minister must tell the nation when did he become aware of this information of the alleged call of the Leader of the Opposition to Minister Marlene McDonald," Panday said.
He also questioned why Rowley used parliamentary privilege to make such a serious statement. He said what the Government did was an attempt to undermine the integrity of the Police Service as it insinuated there was a leak. He said the Police Service is an independent organisation and must not allow itself to be bullied by anyone.