(Trinidad Express) National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday described himself as “incorruptible”.
Warner was referring specifically to an exclusive Express investigation which found that over TT$100 million went missing during his dealings with local football since 2006.
The investigation by head of the Express Investigative Desk, Camini Marajh, also found that millions of dollars were transferred to Warner’s bank accounts from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
“If I did not believe that (I was incorruptible) I wouldn’t say it. You point to anything that I have done as a Minister in this country that warrant me to change my opinion. Nothing,” he said.
“In 2013, seven years later we are struggling to prevent us from being the world’s most stupid country as far as journalism is concerned,” he said.
“Who would have thought that after bringing this country, the smallest country on earth in 2006 to the biggest event on earth (World Cup football) that seven years after, I would read so much garbage? Who would have thought so?” he said.
Warner was delivering the keynote address at a Recognition and Awards ceremony for members of the protective services at his Ministry’s office on Abercromby Street yesterday during which he spent the majority of his speaking time criticising the local media for focusing too much on negative news.
He took sections of the media to task for what he described as continued attacks on him now by using old information.
“No reporter thought about expenditure, what this cost, what that cost. They only concerned with income and that is news…If you want to look at something that happened seven years ago which is still out there in the public domain, I am not prepared to be sidetracked,” he said.
When asked to comment specifically about the allegations, Warner said he “had guys with silk who would do that” for him.
“When they put on their silk they will do it (respond), for the time being don’t let me do for them nah. I have said nothing more, all I am saying is that when they put on their silk, they will deal with that. Don’t let me do it for them,” he said.
He said even with all the negative reports about him he would not be deterred, but was curious why he was the “bete noire” of the Government.
“My wife is telling me where the money gone? I say what money you talking about and when she show me (the article) I said ‘steups’,” he said.
Despite two recent surveys that showed he remained the most popular Minister of the People’s Partnership Government, Warner described himself as the most despised, but soon clarified that statement.
“I won’t say I am the most despised because one media house has a grievance, I don’t judge myself by that, “he said.
Warner maintained that he is being unfairly targeted by one media house in particular but said the country was “not stupid”.
“One thing about this country is that people are not stupid and people can see what is happening. I mean one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, people can see what is happening,” Warner said.
He accused the Express of using him “to sell papers”.
Two weeks ago, an internal memo from Warner’s office was leaked to the media, which stated that the distribution of advertisements had to be approved by Warner. This was considered by commentators to be a high handed move to starve offending media houses of lucrative Government advertising deals.
“I can’t speak for other Ministries but I know that my Ministry has a limited budget and I want to make sure that the money they have is spent prudently and they get the best coverage for the money they spent. So I want to oversee how it is spent, where it is spent. That is the reason behind it,” he said.