Anthony Carmona to be new President of Trinidad

(Trinidad Express) Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona will be elected the fifth President of Trinidad and Tobago on February 15.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday hailed Carmona as a “distinguished son of the soil”, naming him as the Government’s nominee to succeed President George Maxwell Richards.

The President is elected by the Electoral College which is comprised of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona
Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona

Carmona’s rise to the presidency is ensured with the People’s Partnership’s majority in Parliament.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, around 6 p.m. yesterday.

Persad-Bissessar emphasised that there was great consultation and deliberation on the country’s new President.

The Prime Minister earlier met with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and his team who proposed Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Judge Rolston Nelson for President.

The Prime Minister then met with Government members, including leaders of the People’s Partnership coalition and parliamentarians, who all had the opportunity to express their view on the choice for President.

“Fellow citizens, I have the honour and immense pride to have advised his excellency Prof George Maxwell Richards to advise the honorable Chief Justice Mr Ivor Archie and to advise the honourable Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago formerly proposes the name of Mr Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, Senior Counsel, as the nominee for the post of President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Persad-Bissessar.

A loud round of applause followed from Government members present.

Persad-Bissessar said Carmona was an internationally respected member of the Judiciary, having recently been elected as a judge of the International Criminal Court—which is internationally recognised as having been formed out of a proposal put forward by former T&T prime minister and president Arthur NR Robinson.

Carmona, she said, has a distinguished career in the criminal justice system over the past 30 years, having served under several administrations.

Persad-Bissessar noted that Carmona held the positions of deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and acting Director of Public Prosecutions and was also the United Nations prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

She added that Carmona has also been a senior tutor in the department of government and a lecturer in Languages and Linguistics at The University of the West Indies.

“Mr Justice Anthony Carmona, in the opinion of those giving consideration, has demonstrated the qualities of human character, experience and distinguished qualifications worthy enough to be the nominee for President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and to best serve our citizens their enshrined and sacred democratic rights and interests with compassion, humanity, fairness and love towards all,” said Persad-Bissessar.

On March 17, the second term of President Richards will expire. He has served as President for the past decade.

The Prime Minister expressed deep gratitude to Richards on behalf of the people for his service.

“As an academic and former principal of the University of the West Indies, his excellency brought to this esteemed office scholastic expertise and he is best remembered as the person who redefined the role into a more people-friendly one,” said Persad-Bissessar.

“His excellency President George Maxwell Richards has served us with honour and dignity, and he will hold, like all presidents past, a sacred and special place in our nation’s history,” she added.

Since the announcement was made last month that a new President was to be elected, the country was gripped by intense speculation as to who would be chosen.

Names such as House Speaker Wade Mark, Justice Amrika Tiwary-Reddy and Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan, among others, were all in the race.

“I am proud to say that from the bosom of our citizenry there were many sound candidates recommended, each in his or her own right eminently qualified for the post,” said Persad-Bissessar, adding that she took into consideration the suggestions from all.

She noted that this country’s first President, the late Sir Ellis Clarke, swore on August 1, 1976 to uphold the Constitution in good faith with bias to none and showed that citizens were capable of governing ourselves in peace, harmony and progress.

Some 36 years later, Persad-Bissessar said this country has impressed the world with literary, cultural, scientific, business and technological advancements and developments.

In addition, she said, in the age of civil wars and terrorism, “we stand as a global beacon of hope and example of how one small group of people so diverse in religions, ethnicities and cultures, can unite as one people under the banner of progress, discipline, tolerance, production and most importantly, peace”.

“That is the significance of the Office of President to us as a people and in our ever-changing world, where the evolution of human rights have now, justly, gained precedence, we must remember that the role of President of Trinidad and Tobago has thus become, more than ever, an important one constitutionally and it is much needed to effect proper governance and the democratic tenets which bind us,” said Persad-Bissessar.

The Prime Minister noted that far from being a mere ceremonial post, the office and role of the President “is in fact the measure of democracy in our nation, the guidepost of our humanity, wisdom, civility, rationality, compassion, intelligence and progress as we uphold and respect our democratic principles of equality for all”.


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Delcidio do Amaral

Brazil corruption probe widens; Senate leader, BTG Pactual CEO arrested SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, (Reuters) – The chief executive of Brazil’s biggest independent investment bank and the leading senator in the governing coalition were arrested yesterday on suspicion of obstructing the country’s most sweeping corruption investigation ever. The detention of such prominent power brokers on orders from the Supreme Court raised the stakes dramatically in a bribery scandal that started with state-run oil company Petrobras and now threatens the heights of Brazilian banking and politics. The arrest of Andre Esteves, the billionaire CEO and controlling shareholder of BTG Pactual SA and Brazil’s most influential dealmaker, sent the bank’s listed shares into a dive that wiped out a fifth of its market value and raised red flags at the central bank. Brazil’s Congress also ground to a halt with the arrest of ruling Workers’ Party Senator Delcidio do Amaral, a veteran lawmaker who has run the economic affairs committee and who has been key to President Dilma Rousseff’s unpopular austerity program. Brazil’s currency fell as much as 2 percent as the scandal threatened both the country’s sixth-largest bank and the president’s sputtering efforts to pass a new budget and avoid another credit ratings downgrade to junk. Brazil’s central bank said it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves to see whether it would impact operations at BTG Pactual and trigger regulatory action. Banking analysts warned that BTG Pactual, the largest independent investment bank in Latin America, could struggle to navigate Brazil’s worst recession in a quarter century without its wunderkind founder at the helm. Clients withdrew funds equivalent to less than 1 percent of assets under management at BTG Pactual, which was less than had initially been expected by some, said a source with knowledge of the bank’s strategy. The six-year-old BTG Pactual, which manages about 230 billion reais ($61 billion), tapped less than 5 percent of its about 40 billion reais in cash reserves to cover those redemptions, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. SHOCKWAVES IN CONGRESS The political gridlock that has obstructed economic policy this year is likely to worsen with the jailing of Amaral, one of about 50 Brazilian politicians under investigation for their alleged roles in a vast kickback scandal at the oil giant known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Amaral’s arrest was the first ever for a sitting senator in Brazil and it sent shockwaves through the capital. Congress suspended its sessions as senators met to discuss how to handle the arrest. After a heated debate in which some government supporters defended Amaral, the Senate voted 59-13 to uphold the top court’s decision to order his arrest. Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki said he authorized the arrest after prosecutors presented a taped conversation in which Amaral tried to bribe Petrobras’ former international director, Nestor Cervero, out of taking a plea bargain that could implicate the senator and other politicians. Prosecutors alleged that Amaral conspired to help Cervero flee authorities. They also said the senator offered a monthly stipend to the former executive’s family, financed by Esteves, who had obtained a copy of a plea bargain based on Cervero’s testimony. Cervero was received a 12-year sentence in August for corruption and money laundering in connection to bribes paid on two drillship contracts. Another defendant in the case testified that Cervero had passed bribe money to Amaral skimmed from Petrobras’ controversial 2006 purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas. Amaral’s lawyer, Mauricio Silva Leite, dismissed the accusation that his client obstructed the Petrobras investigation, saying it was based on the word of a convict. He also criticized the Supreme Court for ignoring the senator’s immunity as an elected official. SHARES DIVE BTG Pactual confirmed the arrest of its chief executive and said the bank was available to cooperate with the investigation. Esteves’ lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, told reporters that the banker “certainly” had not acted to obstruct the investigation. The bank’s listed units, a blend of shares in its investment banking and private equity divisions, tumbled as much as 39 percent to an all-time low on the Sao Paulo stock exchange before paring losses to 21 percent. Court representatives said Esteves had been arrested temporarily for five days, with a potential extension of five days. Amaral was arrested for an indefinite period. Esteves, 47, has drawn on powerful connections in politics and global finance to steer BTG Pactual through turbulent times as Brazil’s economy plunged into a sharp recession. BTG Pactual’s major deals with Petrobras have drawn the attention of investigators, including the bank’s stake in Sete Brasil Participacoes SA, a supplier of oil-drilling platforms that has been swept up in the probe. BTG Pactual also bought half of Petrobras’ Africa unit in 2013. Last quarter, credit to oil and gas and infrastructure companies, which are the most impacted industries in the widening graft probe, accounted for about 16 percent of BTG’s loan book. That is the largest exposure among Brazil’s listed traded banks, according to Thomson Reuters data. Brazil’s central bank said in a press statement that it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves, adding that BTG Pactual has solid liquidity indicators and continues to operate normally. The net worth of Esteves was last estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes Magazine.


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