Integrity Comm demands answers on Guanapo church

The Integrity Commission on June 22, wrote to Udecott demanding that this information be made available within 14 days. That deadline ends on Thursday of this week. In the two page letter signed by Martin Farrell, Registrar of the Integrity Commission it stated: “In this regard, the Commission requests that, within 14 days of your receipt of this letter, you supply it with the following information: 1) Whether Udecott is involved in any way in the construction of the church, The Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ situated at the Heights of Guanapo; and 2) If so, kindly provide copies of documents evidencing the following:

Any decision taken by the Udecott Board or its former Chairman Mr Calder Hart to support Udecott’s involvement in the construction of the church, The Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ situated at the Heights of Guanapo.”

The letter from the Integrity Commission also stated that this request is being made under section 33 of the Integrity in Public Life Act, Chapter 22:01 (the Act). With regard to such investigations, section 33(b) of the Act states the following:

“The Commission – shall upon the complaint of any member of the public, consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the Act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct.”

Further, section 34(1) of the Act states the following:

“In carrying out its function under Section 33, the Commission may – require any person, within a specified time, to provide any information or to answer any question which the Commission considers necessary in connection with any enquiry or investigation which the Commission is empowered to conduct under this Act.”

Earlier this year Udecott issued a media statement denying any involvement in the construction of the Light House of the Lord Jesus Christ Church.

Yesterday a Udecott official confirmed to Newsday that the Integrity Commission has made certain requests of Udecott. “We are making every effort to comply with the deadline,” the official said.

Yesterday Attorney General Anand Ramlogan who has been very vocal about the decision by the Acting Police Commissioner not to make the church site a restricted area said, “I am extremely pleased that the Integrity Commission is advancing and stepping up the pace of these investigations and hope that the relevant agencies give them their fullest support and cooperation.”

Also yesterday Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams who issued instructions to the police on Friday to arrest persons removing items from the church in Guanapo said: “There is clear instructions to the police to monitor the location and pay continuous surveillance and patrols to that area and any criminal offence committed within their view they are to take the appropriate action.”

Three months ago the Integrity Commission initiated investigations into the construction of the church.

On March 26, of this year the Integrity Commission wrote to ITEC (Indo Trinbago Equality Council) Chairman Devant Maharaj indicating that they have commenced the investigations into the construction of the church. This investigation was initiated because Maharaj had written to the Integrity Commission on February 18 asking them to launch an investigation.

Yesterday Maharaj told Sunday Newsday he wrote the Integrity Commission on Friday indicating that: “ITEC is extremely disturbed about the status of our complaint following numerous media reports indicating that the site of the Guanapo church has been virtually looted and plundered by criminal elements. The integrity of any investigation into our complaint is at risk of being severely compromised as evidence is being allowed to be carted off and or destroyed, equally alarming to ITEC is the virtual disappearance from the national landscape of some of the key players in the church’s construction notably the former executive chairman of Udecott Calder Hart and the Shanghai Corporation.

ITEC goes on: “Given the issue of the church is of national interest what appears to be the failure of the Integrity Commission to take the appropriate measures to prevent the flight of individuals from the nation as well as to ascertain the owners of the church is of deep unease to ITEC.

“What appears to be the impotency of the Integrity Commission on this issue as well as other issues suggest that the commission is either unwilling or unable to have investigations involving the PNM administration properly undertaken in a timely manner.

“This perception has severely undermined the public’s perception in not only the ability of the commission but more importantly the position of independence.”

Last Thursday the dome of the church collapsed following widespread removal of steel used to prop up the dome and this resulted in two persons being injured.

On Friday two persons were charged with unlawful possession after they were allegedly found to be in possession of material taken from the church site.

Two weeks ago officers of the fraud squad raided Shanghai Corporation in Port-of-Spain and seized plans for the Prime Minister’s residence and the church at the Heights of Guanapo.

Michael Zhang Managing Director of Shanghai Corporation has since stated that he was advised by his lawyers not to say anything about the church publicly.


"Integrity Comm demands answers on Guanapo church"

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