(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar said last night corruption accused Jack Warner is releasing tapes because she refused to be blackmailed in exchange for his reinstatement to the Cabinet.
Persad-Bissessar said she was made aware of the information on the tape immediately following the resignation of Warner as national security minister, but refused to give in to his demands and give him back his job.
This particular tape, featuring allegations of corruption against former minister of the people Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and his instructions to Kristyan Gokool to go to her official St Ann’s residence (which he has denied), was made on August 2013, about four months after Warner resigned from the Government.
Responding to questions sent by the Express yesterday by text, enquiring whether she was privy to the information on the audio tapes before it was aired by Warner, Persad-Bissessar said: “Yes. Immediately after he had resigned from my Cabinet on my request, when in the face of damning allegations about FIFA (including the Sir David Simmons Report), I requested that he go and clear his name. I was made aware of what was being alleged, in an effort to blackmail me into taking him back into Government. Indeed, the allegations featured in the Chaguanas by-election.”
Contrived and bogus allegations
Pressed on her blackmail statement, Persad-Bissessar said: “In light of all of these bogus and contrived allegations, what am I left to assume? As you are aware, he has been bragging that he has files on members of my Government, and immediately after his resignation and more recently, he has been coming to the public with contrived and bogus allegations. He asked to be reinstated in his Government position or else he will bring down my entire Government.”
Former minister of national security minister Gary Griffith is on record as saying he held informal talks with Warner to bridge the gap between him and the People’s Partnership.
When the Express contacted Warner yesterday, asking if he attempted to use the recording to get back his job or form an alliance with the Partnership in the upcoming elections, he denied doing this.
Warner said: “I never ever bargained with Ms Persad-Bissessar or anyone else re these disclosures. There are only three people who I have given a copy of the tape—the Integrity Commission, about two years ago; a lawyer, three weeks ago; and Mark Bassant (TV6 reporter), two weeks ago. Kamla has no favours that I want, now or ever. Finally, I do wish to reiterate to the national community that the worst is yet to come.
“I never sent emissaries at any time to talk with Kamla but she did, and let her deny that and I will prove it.”
Arrest a plot by Partnership
Warner resigned as national security minister on April 21, 2013, following a damning report from chairman of the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations o Football) Integrity Committee Sir David Simmons, which revealed multimillion-dollar financial mismanagement by Warner and former Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer. Both men have been indicted by the United States on corruption charges.
Warner is on $2.5 million bail to cover eight criminal charges, on which he and 14 people are wanted in the United States in connection with allegations of bribery, money laundering, corruption and wire- fraud conspiracy, arising out of investigations conducted by the US government into operations at FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association).
But according to Warner, his arrest was a plot by the Partnership to silence him in the upcoming general election.
Declaring on May 27 “the gloves are off”, Warner also blamed the Partnership for him spending the night at the Frederick Street prison after he was unable to secure bail.
Since then, Warner has held two news conferences, airing voice recordings directly aimed at Persad-Bissessar and the People’s Partnership.
Warner, who first made the claim of a marijuana find at Persad-Bissessar’s private Phillipine residence, held a news conference on June 16 to defend his claim, insisting she was out of the country at the time of the discovery and wanted to resign when told of the discovery.
Persad-Bissessar has denied wanting to resign her job as Prime Minister and described Warner as “delusional”.
Warner also threw out the question “Who is Kristyan?” to Persad- Bissessar last Wednesday, at a political meeting in San Fernando.
Warner said: “Kamla, for your sake and the country sake, tell them who is Kristyan. That is all. Tell the country who is Kristyan, Kamla. I go further to tell you to tell Jit Hardeen, a special reserve police (SRP) officer; ask him to tell us who is Kristyan because if she does not and he does not in two weeks’ time I will.”
Persad-Bissessar has said Kristyan Gokool is her neighbour and has attended functions at her home and the official residence at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Investigations by the Express have found Gokool bought a $6 million mansion next door to Persad-Bissessar’s private Phillipine residence but has never lived in the house.
Persad-Bissessar has denied knowing Hardeen but said she was informed he was the driver of Ramadharsingh.