(Trinidad Express) Things seem to be turning against Jack Warner.
The Integrity Commission has asked President Anthony Carmona to appoint a tribunal to investigate the Chaguanas West MP and former National Security minister.
The President-appointed tribunal will determine whether Warner’s declarations of his income, assets and liabilities to the Integrity Commission can stand scrutiny and constitute full disclosure of his financial affairs.
Warner, who appeared at one time to be riding the crest of a wave, now seems to be becalmed, with a series of reversals since his Independent Liberal Party’s (ILP) poor showing at the local government election last November.
In a release issued yesterday, the Integrity Commission said it took note in April 2013 of the report of the Integrity Committee appointed by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Football—Concacaf (chaired by former Barbados chief justice Sir David Simmons) which alleged Warner committed fraud against Concacaf and FIFA, in connection with the Centre of Excellence in Macoya and in respect of financial statements of Concacaf.
That damning report found Warner had, among other things, deceived “persons and organisations” about his ownership of the Centre of Excellence.
The Simmons report also accused Warner of misappropriating funds and committing fraud.
The Integrity Commission said in the interest of the public, it decided to enquire further into these allegations of fraud. It cited Section 22 of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA), which states the commission “may on its own initiative…consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the Act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct”.
The Integrity Commission stated further, in pursuance of this, it had written to the President, in accordance with Section 15 of the IPLA, requesting the appointment of a tribunal to enquire further into declarations submitted by Warner.
The act has specific provision for this. Section 15 of the IPLA states: “Where upon the examination referred to in Section 13, the commission is of the opinion that it should enquire further into any declaration so as to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure, it may advise the President to appoint a tribunal of two or more of its members to conduct an enquiry to verify the contents of the declaration or the statement filed with the commission.”
The Integrity Commission is mandated by Section 13 of the act to examine every declaration that is filed and ensure it complies with the requirements of the act.
In response, Warner said: “It is passing strange that the issue in the air now is about a drug bust and the Integrity Commission sees it fit to use this as a diversion, no doubt, under instructions, to come up with an investigation in an issue where neither FIFA nor Concacaf has shown an interest.
“It is a smokescreen. The timing of the commission’s statement is suspicious, but my lawyers and I will deal with it in the fullness of time.”
The Integrity Commission has never used this procedure—of asking the President to set up a tribunal—before.
In the past, the commission has tended to send a matter directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in instances where it was not satisfied with the responses given by a declarant to questions about the declaration, which was the procedure used in the case against Basdeo Panday.
The former prime minister had been accused of failing to declare a London bank account in his declaration to the Integrity Commission.
However, Senior Magistrate Marcia Murray, in June 2012, dismissed the case against Panday because she found the Integrity Commission and the DPP failed to fully and fairly investigate the matter before laying charges against Panday.
Murray had pointed out the commission failed to comply with a provision in the act which required it to advise the President to appoint a tribunal to enquire into the declaration.
“Mr Panday was not given the opportunity, to which he was entitled, to be heard by a properly constituted tribunal,” Murray had stated.
The DPP has challenged the magistrate’s findings and that matter is ongoing.
However, the commission, in requesting the President to appoint a tribunal, is making sure its actions are not criticised by the court, in the event any of its decisions are challenged.