(Trinidad Express) The Integrity Commission has cleared Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of any breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act when she stayed at the private residence of her friends Ralph and Maureen Gopaul last year.
With a letter from the Integrity Commission in hand, Persad-Bissessar yesterday read the contents which stated that she was not guilty of any allegations levelled against her at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, St Clair.
Persad-Bissessar noted that the letter, dated July 25, was sent to her by the Martin Farrell, Registrar of the Integrity Commission.
She read: “The Integrity Commission has directed me to inform you that a letter of complaint alleging a breach of the integrity in Public Life Act Chapter 22:01 pertaining to your stay at the Gopauls residence at Pasea, Tunapuna, has been received. The Commission has considered the matter and rejected the complaint”.
With a smile, Persad-Bissessar said: “So, I am very happy to have received this letter from the Integrity Commission which deal with a subject that has been in the public domain for quite some time now”.
Throughout the heated issue, Persad-Bissessar had maintained, “My hands are clean and my heart is pure”.
The Prime Minister left immediately after making the brief statement as she indicated she had two meetings to attend.
In May this year, Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds wrote the Integrity Commission calling for an investigation into the award of a $40 million contract by state-owned National Petroleum Marketing Co to Gopaul and Company, with a view to determining whether Persad-Bissessar was in breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act and guilty of misconduct in public office.
In his letter Hinds had stated, “I am of the view that …the Honourable Prime Minister at a minimum, supported a decision which: 1) afforded undue preferential treatment to the Gopauls; 2) provided a benefit to and/or improperly advanced the interest of the Gopauls and/or their company; 3) resulted in a failure to exercise her public duty in a fair and impartial manner”.
The $40 million NP contract to transport gas sparked controversy when it was revealed that Gopaul Co Ltd, owned by the friends of the Prime Minister, had won the bid for the contract.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan had sought the advice of four senior counsel who all found that the Prime Minister was not in violation of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
Government members had called for Integrity Commission Chairman Eric St Cyr’s resignation as he had stated that the controversy could have been avoided if the Prime Minister had stayed at a hotel.