|COPS LIFE SPORT LIST |
By NALINEE SEELAL Wednesday, August 6 2014
A LIST has been compiled of the names of persons who are to be interviewed by the police team, who yesterday began a probe into the Life Sport Programme.
Top of this list of persons to be interviewed by the handpicked team of investigators are the Sport Ministry’s deputy director of physical education Ruth Marchan, Anil Roberts who last week resigned as Sport Minister and D’Abadie/O’Meara MP, Chaguanas West MP and Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner and Ashwin Creed, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sport. Creed is due to retire soon from the Public Service.
The team of officers met for the first time yesterday to discuss the way forward in dealing with allegations contained in the Finance Ministry’s audit report on the Life Sport Programme which was laid in the House of Representatives two Fridays ago by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Copies of the report were also forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams to commence criminal investigations. Copies were also forwarded to the Head of the Public Service and to the Integrity Commission.
Yesterday, a copy of the audit report was handed over to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Carlton Alleyne and he together with a team of officers pulled from the Fraud Squad, Anti-Corruption Investigations Bureau (ACIB) and other arms of the police service as well as a legal officer met at Alleyne’s office shortly after 3 pm yesterday.
Newsday understands that members of the team are to be presented with their own copies of the audit report and will be guided as to the parameters of the investigation by the Police Service’s in-house legal advisor who is a police officer with formal training and certification in law.
The team is expected to review the findings of the audit before seeking to interview persons on their list which apart from the above-mentioned four, also includes co-ordinators of the programme and contractors.
Officers involved in the probe are also expected to seek the expertise of accountants to assist them as they proceed along the investigation. Contacted yesterday for comment, Alleyne confirmed meeting with the team of investigators and said certain procedures are expected to be put in place to facilitate the broad-based investigation.
Newsday understands that officers are also keen to speak with Chaguanas West MP Warner who had made it public that he is in receipt of a number of documents which could prove useful to the police investigation. Officers added that Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who on Monday claimed he was given cheque stubs from the Life Sport programme found at the Beetham landfill, may also be sought to be interviewed. (See Page 5)
Yesterday, sources within the PNM told Newsday a driver assigned to the Office of the Opposition Leader’s office dropped off the cheque stubs which were allegedly found at the landfill.
Police sources revealed yesterday that one of the first persons to be interviewed will be Marchan who is now being guarded by officers of the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit based on her own request.
Marchan who publicly stated she was living in fear after being placed on a hit list, had sought assistance from Warner who offered her protection by way of a ‘safe house’ but she later opted to seek protection from the police and up until yesterday was still in their custody. Marchan has already stated to police that she will cooperate and provide information. The Finance Ministry’s audit report raised allegations of several acts of fraud, corruption and other crimes relating to the payment of contracts to persons and companies for work which was never done in the Life Sport Programme, which was conceptualised by then Minister of Sport Anil Roberts. The programme was geared towards at risk youth who were to be provided with life skills, basic math and English tutoring and other social assistance.
Some issues raised in the report include persons being paid twice for contracted work, persons being paid without any verification being carried out to ascertain whether work was done as well as misappropriation of funds. The single biggest payment, identified in the report, was a $34 million payout to an education company for no work done.
Roberts, who steadfastly maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing in the programme, tendered his resignation to Persad-Bissessar last week both from her Cabinet as Sport Minister and from the House of Representatives, as MP for D’Abadie/O’Meara, vowing to prove his innocence.
He has also attacked the Finance Ministry’s audit report as being doctored since key pieces of information were missing or omitted from the report.
Sources said members of the team formed to investigate the Life Sport scandal have not received any of the Life Sport cheque stubs which Rowley alleged on Monday, had been found at the landfill.
On July 25, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar announced the termination of the Life Sport programme, in the wake of the findings of the audit. Efforts by Newsday to reach Marchan, Roberts, Creed and Warner for comment yesterday all proved futile.
TEAM LEADER: Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Carlton Alleyne, who has been mandated to head a team of hand-picked police officers to probe the findings of a Finance Ministry audit into the now defunct Life Sport Programme.