(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) THE Prime Minister rejected charges that he has a Florida bank account as a deliberate plot to defame him by “spurious and wholly untrue allegations.” In a personal explanation in the House of Representations yesterday, Dr Keith Rowley rejected claims by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal in Tuesday’s budget debate that he has a US account with one Vidya Deokiesingh.
Rowley recalled the damage done in a similar incident last December in the House when Moonilal had tried to link Rowley to AV Drilling head Haniff Baksh, before the MP had to withdraw the remark.
“Even though the member ran from what he initially said, and withdrew, the damage and harm that he intended to cause in a most malicious manner was already done,” Rowley hit.
“Oropouche East uses the fact that our proceedings are carried and broadcast live via radio, television and on the world wide web to a global audience to malign, and attempt to damage me, and other members of the Government with complete fabrications of untruths, putting his malicious untruths out there and then withdrawing from same, with the damage to reputations already being done.”
The PM said such behaviour is un-parliamentary and unbecoming of any MP, and must be condemned.
“It is deserving of being brought before the Privileges Committee.”
Rowley said on Tuesday, Moonilal had engaged in such behaviour under parliamentary cover, minutes after activist Devant Maharaj on social media had just promised “fireworks” in Parliament.
The PM hit, “This, Madam Speaker, is clear evidence of collusion and malice.”
Rowley said Moonilal had verbally identified him but gave House no document to support his allegations, yet minutes later bits of defamatory documents were broadcast worldwide by individuals including MPs.
“What the member did was carefully, intentionally and maliciously calculated to defame me, damage me (and my reputation). He imputed impropriety to me and provided only bogus documents. This is unacceptable and cannot be left unchallenged.”
Rowley said there is absolutely no truth to what Moonilal had imputed.
“I have no bank account in Miami, USA. I was not party to any banking transaction with Mr Deokiesingh, Formula One Trading or any person or persons with respect to any bank in Florida, the United States, or any bank in the world for that matter.”
He challenged Moonilal to supply his documents outside of Parliament.
“I have observed that as he has taken ownership of his performance within these walls he has since confirmed his libel outside. The treatment of this development is for another day in another place.”
Rowley said he yesterday instructed his attorneys to write to the Regions Bank of Doral, Florida 33166 to obtain from them confirmation he had never done any banking with them whatsoever, as that was the truth.
“The Member has a modus operandi that whenever he comes to Parliament and hides behind parliamentary privilege to malign me or any other member, he does not provide any document to you or the House, but almost instantaneously, the allegation and any document that he purportedly has in his possession appears on Facebook and other social media it is then circulated on social media by primed persons associated with the UNC opposition and on Facebook pages controlled by the UNC Opposition. “Additionally selected, sound-bite video recordings of his contribution where he abuses parliamentary privilege is also circulated on social media. Madame Speaker, I submit that this is calculated to damage me irreparably.”
Rowley said Moonilal had once leader of government business who had approved Tobago East MP Vernella Alleyne-Toppin’s “distasteful rant” speech that in a most vicious, vile, hateful and repulsive manner had cast all manner of aspersions on him and his deceased father. “This is now becoming a habit of this member for Oropouche East.”