Trinidad PM denies allegations of financial impropriety
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Trinidad and Tobago prime minister, Dr Keith Rowley, has denied allegations that he has a bank account in Florida through which he benefitted financially from a massive fake oil fraud at the state-owned Petrotrin refinery as “spurious and wholly untrue”.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Dr Roodal Moonilal, made the accusations during Tuesday’s Budget debate, when he read from documents he said showed that Rowley had benefited from financial transactions conducted through a US account with Vidya Deokiesingh.
In a personal explanation in the House of Representations on Tuesday, Rowley said there is absolutely no truth to what Moonilal had imputed.
“It is deserving of being brought before the Privileges Committee,” he said.
“I have no bank account in Miami, USA. I was not party to any banking transaction with Mr Deokiesingh, Formula One Trading or any person or persons with respect to any bank in Florida, the United States, or any bank in the world for that matter,” Rowley added.
He challenged Moonilal to supply the documents in question outside of Parliament, although they have in the meantime been widely circulated on social media.
At a follow up press conference on Wednesday, Rowley called on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and the Financial Intelligence Unit to initiate probes into the claims has made against him by Moonilal and to report their findings to the public.
Rowley also said he would instruct Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to use the various treaties government has signed with the United States, to obtain the various statements and documentation at the financial institution named by Moonilal so that the matter could be thoroughly investigated.
His lawyer Michael Quamina noted that the company named by Moonilal as having been part of the transaction, Formula 1 Trading, had also ceased to function since 2011 and was struck off the company’s registry in Trinidad and Tobago.
Quamina said that, while he could not challenge the statements Moonilal made in parliament, since he would have been covered by privilege, subsequent statements made by the opposition MP to the media and on social media were not covered.
Quamina said he would now look at these statements with the intention of taking Moonilal to court for defamation of his client.
Quamina also proposed to go after individuals who were making similarly damaging statements against the prime minister on social media in relation to the matter.
“They are not protected by Parliamentary privilege,” Quamina said.
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Photo: Sureash Cholai/Newsday