Anti-corruption officers visit T&T Guardian

(Trinidad Guardian) Officers from the police Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB) visited the newsroom of the T&T Guardian yesterday seeking information about a story on the Integrity Commission. The police were investigating a story that reported on a possible conflict of interest involving Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon.

Published in the Sunday Guardian on January 22, the story, by investigative reporter Anika Gumbs-Sandiford, quoted a letter that Gordon wrote to the commission’s registrar about the printery owned by Gordon and his son Rhett. It also quoted a legal opinion on the issue provided to the commission by its legal adviser, Marlon Sambucharan.

Asst Supt Anthony Bucchan called Gumbs-Sandiford yesterday morning to give her an hour’s notice that he was coming to the newspaper’s office on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, to interview her. At the meeting, ASP Bucchan told Gumbs-Sandiford he wanted to ask her about the legal opinion she had quoted in the story. T&T Guardian editor-in-chief Judy Raymond told Bucchan the newspaper would prefer if the interview were conducted in the presence of a Guardian Media Ltd attorney.

The police agreed to defer the interview to tomorrow morning so that a GML lawyer could attend. In his letter to the registrar, Martin Farrell, Gordon explained that he and his son Rhett had recently acquired Zenith Printery, since renamed Caribbean Print Technologies,  and wanted to continue to do business with its previous clients, one of whom was the commission. Gordon asked whether there would be any objection to Rhett’s tendering for work from the commission.

In his legal opinion, Sambucharan responded, “An issue of conflict of interest will arise upon this tender for work. Claims of self-dealing or serving a family interest, aka nepotism, may be raised but this is not to say that such a conflict cannot be mitigated against and/or lawfully avoided.”

In February this year, the ACIB raided the offices of Newsday and seized computers and cellphones belonging to reporter Andre Bagoo. They later searched his home and a marked police car was seen waiting for hours outside the house. In January, the ACIB had asked Bagoo about the source of a story about a row between Gordon and a fellow commissioner, Gladys Gafoor. Bagoo refused to reveal his source.

Gafoor was suspended from the commission last December after refusing to recuse herself from discussion of an investigation involving former attorney general John Jeremie. A tribunal was set up to probe her conduct. Gafoor has mounted a legal challenge to the decision to suspend her and to appoint the tribunal to investigate allegations against her. The two matters are being heard in the High Court.

 

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