Trinidad’s ruling party expels long-standing member over alleged corruption

Har­ry Ra­goo­nanan

(Trinidad Guardian) The Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM) vot­ed yes­ter­day to ex­pel sus­pend­ed long-stand­ing mem­ber and fi­nancier, Har­ry Ra­goo­nanan from the par­ty.

At a press con­fer­ence at Bal­isi­er House fol­low­ing the meet­ing, chair­man Colm Im­bert said none of the gen­er­al coun­cil mem­bers vot­ed against the dis­ci­pli­nary com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion which was pre­sent­ed at the meet­ing.

“You may re­call that some­time last year there was a re­port of a com­plaint made about a PNM mem­ber, Mr Har­ry Ra­goo­nanan. That mat­ter was re­ferred to the par­ty’s dis­ci­pli­nary com­mit­tee and af­ter con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ex­am­in­ing the ev­i­dence and facts, and fol­low­ing the rules of nat­ur­al jus­tice, the dis­ci­pli­nary com­mit­tee re­port­ed to the gen­er­al coun­cil to­day on their find­ings with re­spect to that par­tic­u­lar com­plaint with re­spect to Mr Ra­goo­nanan,” Im­bert said.

“There were no votes against the mo­tion. No­body vot­ed against it. Yes, there were ab­sten­tions but not suf­fi­cient or in any way im­pact­ing on the de­ci­sion.”

On Oc­to­ber 14, 2017, Ra­goo­nanan was sus­pend­ed from the par­ty fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions that he was in­volved in cor­rupt prac­tices and be­hav­iours with re­spect to pro­cure­ment of Pub­lic Trans­port Ser­vice Cor­po­ra­tion (PTSC) bus­es. The al­le­ga­tions came af­ter the leak of a record­ed tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion in­volv­ing some­one iden­ti­fied as “Har­ry.”

Last Au­gust 13, the PNM an­nounced that Ra­goo­nanan would face its dis­ci­pli­nary com­mit­tee led by par­ty vice-chair­man Camille Robin­son-Reg­is.

At that time, Ra­goo­nanan claimed that the call for him to face the com­mit­tee amount­ed to a witch hunt. He de­nied the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against him dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held joint­ly UNC ac­tivist De­vant Ma­haraj.

Calls to Ra­goo­nanan’s cell­phone went unan­swered yes­ter­day and PNM PRO Lau­rel Leza­ma-Lee Sing could not say whether had been in­formed of the par­ty’s de­ci­sion.

Robin­son-Reg­is said the com­mit­tee’s find­ings were not passed on to po­lice and did not re­spond to fol­low-up ques­tions.

Im­bert said while it was his re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to de­liv­er the news, it brought him no joy.

“It is very, very un­for­tu­nate. It is not a hap­py day for me. I don’t con­sid­er it to be a good day in those terms but there are pro­ce­dures, rules and reg­u­la­tions of the par­ty and those pro­ce­dures had to be fol­lowed in re­gards to this mat­ter,” he said

He said Ra­goo­nanan is not the first mem­ber of the par­ty to be ex­pelled but could not say if past ex­pul­sions had been done in a sim­i­lar man­ner

“Peo­ple are au­to­mat­i­cal­ly ex­pelled from the PNM if they join an­oth­er po­lit­i­cal par­ty, or if they do things that are in­im­i­cal to the move­ment. There have been peo­ple over the years who would have been ex­pelled, so he would not be the first one,” Im­bert said.

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