Landate probe dead

Housing Minister Dr Keith Rowley, whose wife Sharon owns the Landate project in Tobago, is seeking a declaration that the Integrity Commission acted in bad faith and/or was motivated by ulterior motives, and/or was recklessly indifferent of its actions.

He also wants damages after the commission sent a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for investigations without him being heard. That report formed the basis for the controversial Landate affair.

Rowley believed that the commission and/or the DPP was investigating the Landate project, when in fact it was investigating the award of the contract for the Customs and Excise building in Port-of-Spain.

Udecott contends that Rowley interfered in the awarding of the contract to build Customs and Excise building by not favouring Hafeez Karamath Limited. That award eventually went to NH International (Caribbean) Limited.

Rowley stated that he was not involved in the process as he was moved from the Ministry of Planning and Development to the Ministry of Housing long before the award of the contract to his friend Emile Elias, owner of NH International.

Following submissions yesterday, Madame Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, presiding in the Port-of-Spain High Court, ordered that acting Registrar of the Integrity Commission Martin Farrell and Canadian forensics accountant Bashir Rahemtulla, attend court today to be cross-examined.

Margaret Rose, one of Rowley’s lawyers, slammed the Integrity Commission by stating “this is a public body with the power to call on any organisation to hand over documents and yet it did nothing to obtain those documents from Udecott. We have been asking for disclosure, but obtaining information from the Integrity Commission is like pulling teeth and it is only now we are seeing certain documents surfacing.”

Attorney for the Integrity Commission, Jonathan Walker, conceded that the commission erred in not having Dr Rowley respond to the allegation and cross-examination may be necessary in the case of Rahemtulla but, Farrell he said, should not be cross-examined as he was acting on legal advice.

Justice Rajnauth-Lee was not impressed as “the main allegation of bad faith or improper motive must be determined by the court.

The commission was advised but Farrell is yet to say why, why, why, the report was sent without Dr Rowley giving an explanation. The code of conduct of a public authority comes into question here, especially since Dr Rowley complained from day one, the commission got it wrong,” she said.

To reinforce her point, Justice Rajnauth-Lee said, “This case is a balancing act between the commission and its role and the litigant, and while no one is above the law, no organisation is above the law either, I will allow Farrell and Rahemtulla to be cross-examined.”


"Landate probe dead"

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