Kamla: Unexplained Wealth Bill dangerous

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

(Trinidad Guardian) Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described The Civil Assets Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill as dangerous and warned that she will challenge it in court if it is passed in its current form.

In an address at the Spiritual Baptist Community of South East’s Liberation Day celebrations in Princes Town yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition will not support the bill.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi who piloted the legislation in Parliament on Friday said it does not require a special majority and assured that only people engaged in criminal conduct would need to be concerned about the law.

“I think the AG should explain his wealth first. A lawyer who really did not win a big case in his life, he bought a property for $2.5 million at 3 Alexandra Place. In fact, I don’t know how he got a property in the heart of Port-of-Spain in such a built-up area for $2.5 million. And then we have this multi-storey building,” she said.

“I have not even seen mortgage deed with respect to the building of the building. I saw the mortgage deed for the purchase of the land. Maybe there is one he can tell us.  The first person who should explain their wealth is the Honourable Attorney General.”

The Opposition Leader said the UNC agrees there should be forfeiture of the assets of people benefiting from illegal conduct but contended that “we cannot have the breaches of the fundamental rights to property, presumption of innocence, the right not to incriminate yourself, your privacy rights.”

She said a policeman with a grudge against his neighbour could have his neighbour’s assets frozen on mere suspicion.

“Not even reasonable belief, just suspicion, so they go to court and they get something called a property restriction order which means they freeze your property, so now you don’t even have money to go and get a lawyer to help fight it because everything is frozen,” she said.

Persad-Bissesar accused the government of truncating the Parliament and shutting down the debate.

“They don’t want to hear us talk, they will pass it but we will challenge it in the courthouse. If we cannot do it in the Parliament, once they pass that bill, they proclaim it, we will take it to court,” she said.

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