Police probes may be coming to a close soon into alleged matters concerning People’s National Movement Arouca-Maloney MP Camille Robinson-Regis and outgoing PNM MP Darryl Smith during his tenure at the Ministry of Sports.
And a police probe is also ongoing into the People’s Partnership government’s ill-fated Lifesport Programme, which was halted in 2014 and the 2009 Clico collapse.
This was confirmed to the T&T Guardian yesterday by top police officials who said the matters are being closely monitored by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
Robinson-Regis became the subject of a police investigation following allegations concerning a $143,800 cash withdrawal from a Republic Bank account. In January, Griffith said the investigation was moved from the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) because that wasn’t the mandate of that unit. PSB deals with disciplinary issues.
Police investigations are also being done into the Sports Ministry’s payment of $150,000 of taxpayers’ money to a former ministry employee to ascertain who may be criminally culpable.
Smith, now the outgoing Diego Martin Central MP, was removed from his ministry position (and a subsequent junior Housing post) in 2018, following information regarding dismissal and compensation paid to a female sports staffer. Allegations of sexual harassment had also arisen. A report done by a team on the alleged misuse of funds and the dismissal was deemed unusable due to the team’s oversight. It was reported that Smith’s side of the story wasn’t obtained by the team.
Th Lifesport programme was halted by then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar following revelation of alleged corruption, fraud and other irregularities, including infiltration by criminal elements.
A report was done by the Finance Ministry’s Central Audit team but in 2016 the courts ruled the audit was done unfairly and quashed it. It was ruled the audit had failed to give former ministry employees a chance to respond to allegations against them before Persad-Bissessar laid the Lifesport report in Parliament.
The report by the Colman commission on the Clico collapse was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2016. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has said in recent months the DPP was concluding his assessments.
Contacted yesterday on the assorted alleged issues under probe, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said, “I don’t speak about investigations. What I can say is I promised to close all the ‘Gates’ and I’m doing that.”
He cited the closure of the Emailgate matter, the issue of the plant-like substance at Persad-Bissessar’s house, the Cambridge Analytica issue, Calabar Foundation matter, alleged misbehaviour by former political figures and allegations of money being sent abroad by a prime minister.
Griffith added, “... So likewise, I’ll close all gates and they are coming to a close soon.”