PM calls on Integrity Commission to clear air over Milshirv probe
Sunday, January 20 2013
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Friday night called on the Integrity Commission to clear the air over whether it has started an investigation in relation to the $320 million Milshirv/Rahael Tobago House of Assembly (THA) deal, saying failure to do so will give rise to the appearance of “political bias” on the part of the Commission.
At a Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) rally held at Old Market Square, Scarborough, Persad-Bissessar gave fresh details of the deal and queried why requests to probe the issue had been met with silence by the Commission.
“I make no pronouncement or judgement on the bona fides of this transaction but will simply call upon the Integrity Commission to clear the air and announce with similar enthusiasm whether it has not yet also commenced an investigation into the complaint we have made against Mr London concerning the Milshirv scandal,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“Whilst the Integrity Commission was quick to announce and comment on the fact that complaints against the TOP were being investigated, the stony silence on this $310 million dollar transaction leaves a lot to be desired and will give rise to political bias.”
The Prime Minister did not state which complaints against the TOP were being probed.
However, the statement came after a recent report that the Commission registrar has asked a complainant to meet with an investigator and to furnish information in relation to the private residence of TOP political leader Ashworth Jack, the minority leader of the THA. It is unclear if a substantive investigation has begun in relation to the issue.
The Commission has a discretion to ask for documents before deliberating on whether a probe should be done.
The Milshirv matter had been referred to the Integrity Commission by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Ramlogan said yesterday he had no word from the Integrity Commission itself over whether a probe had commenced.
In October 2011, it was reported that the THA said the Commission had requested documents in relation to the issue. THA Chief Secretary Orville London on October 31 reportedly addressed the issue during a media briefing which followed a meeting of the THA executive council in Scarborough.
London said the commission had written to him requesting all relevant documents and information pertaining to the transaction within seven days. He said the commission had the authority to make the request and the THA would comply.TOP to help Tobagonians build homes