Tag Archives: Trinidad and Tobago

The ‘Grand Corruption’

afra raymond CMMB

by Afra Raymond

The recent scandals at LifeSport, Eden Gardens, THA/BOLT, CAL, CL Financial and of course, the Beetham Water Recycling Project, all show the extent to which the Treasury is being targeted by well-connected parties.

There is a constant stream of allegations of ‘Grand Corruption’, which is little surprise in our society in which an unsupported allegation is so often used to discredit an opponent. There is no comfort to be had in that observation, since the other reality is that thorough investigations and prosecutions are only done against ones political enemies, inside or outside the ruling party. That is the sobering reality in our Republic, in which we should all enjoy equal rights and be held to common standards. Different strokes for different folks, just like back in the ‘bad-old-days‘.

It seems to me that the defining question, in terms of whether the various financial crimes are taken seriously, is whether the accused persons are ‘members in good standing‘, so to speak.

The extent to which our Treasury is protected from being plundered by criminal elements is a serious question which should concern every citizen, given that the Public Money in the Treasury belongs to us as citizens and taxpayers. The frequency with which these financial crimes are overlooked is nothing less than scandalous, as any of the Auditor General’s Reports in the previous decade would attest. Permanent Secretaries approving payments in breach of financial regulations; payments made with no documents (leases, contracts or agreements) on file; failure or refusal to produce documents as required by law upon the Auditor General’s request and so many other types of lawbreaking. The same types of conduct is also rife in State Enterprises, which is why so many of the larger ones are unable to produce accounts as required by the very Ministry of Finance which sets those rules and continues to fund them.

The wicked part is that these Public Officials are virtually never charged with breaking the law or made to face any other serious consequences for their misbehaviour in Public Office. We need a new beginning in terms of how we handle the reality of our country’s wealth and its intentionally-degraded laws for controlling how our Public Money is used. A big part of that would be a political dispensation in which full investigations and prosecutions were the norm, especially when key members of the ruling party are the target of allegations.

Our budgeting process now shows all the signs that our system of Public Financial Management is ineffective in dealing with the seasoned criminals who are hard at work helping themselves to our money, whatever the political party in power. At that level, at least, there is little evidence of discrimination.

… read the full article at Afra Raymond’s blog For a Few Dollars More

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Filed under Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Afra Raymond on the Invader’s Bay scandal and High Court ruling

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“The entire process possesses all the ingredients for corruption, I maintain that view.”

Our friend Afra Raymond remains a solid asset to disgusted Trinis and the rest of the Caribbean in the fight against corruption by public officials. Trinidad’s Invader’s Bay scandal is representative of the types of corruption that unfortunately permeates the Caribbean, and Afra has been right on top of the story from the first moment. It is probably accurate to say that Afra’s detailed reporting on the story has the government vexed, and influences the government response and strategies.

Power of the press belongs to those who have one – and Afra has one.

Head over to Afra Raymond’s blog for the latest stories about corruption in Trinidad and Tobago.

Afra Raymond: Reality Check

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Filed under Corruption, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Bold-faced thieves, reckless public officials will destroy post-independence Caribbean

Once again our old friend Afra Raymond does his research and sounds the clarion: Everything Caribbean nations have achieved is at risk because of crooked politicians, bad lawyers and corrupt judges…

The Threat to Integrity – part 4

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

I am fully in support of a vigorous and conscientious Integrity Commission (IC).  I do not want to see the IC abolished or sidelined.  The IC must realign its limited resources to ensure a decisive impact on the conduct of Public Officials.  The proposals contained in its 2012 Annual Report show clearly that the Gordon Commission has started to seriously grapple with that challenge.

The derailment of the IC between 2004 and 2009 is a clear example of what can happen to an Independent Commission if we do not maintain vigilant oversight.

This matter is of the greatest interest for those of us campaigning for Public Procurement reform so as to get effective control over all transactions in Public Money.  The arrangements we are proposing include new Independent Commissions/Officeholders.  It is therefore critical that we learn the lessons from this debacle so as to safeguard the bodies we are proposing.  The stakes are very high for our nation’s Integrity Framework, which must be strengthened, with swifter resolution of allegations.

To continue in the current manner is to drag the system into further disrepute, encourage even more bold-faced thieves, more reckless public officials and we can expect complete loss of the residual respect for the post-independence civilization we have tried to grow.  That would be an ugly and violent future for our society, so this episode requires stern and conscientious examination. Continue reading

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Filed under Corruption, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Afra Raymond: The threat from Trinidad & Tobago’s Appeal Court

trinidad integrity law

Politicians everywhere love those state-controlled enterprises that are exempt from the rules applying to wholly owned state-enterprises. Why, you ask? It’s all about politicos being able to profit from your tax dollars while hiding the profits.

It’s been a constant battle trying to craft integrity laws because the moment a country puts them in place the politicians discover a hundred ways they are exempt.

In Barbados, of course, we don’t bother with Integrity Legislation because we’re happy that the politicians and government employees are able to steal. With about 60 % of the islands workforce somehow employed by the government it all works out. Well, everything works out except the mathematics of keeping the whole thing afloat.

Our old friend Afra Raymond has a problem with the Trinidad & Tobago Appeal Court ruling that undermines Integrity Legislation.

We only wish we had the same problem in Barbados. For in Barbados, we have no integrity or conflicts of interest laws at all!

Take it away, Afra…

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Integrity threat from the Appeal Court

by Afra Raymond

On 27th June the Appeal Court ruled that -

  • TSTT is not a State Enterprise. The members of its Board are not subject to the Integrity Provisions.
  • It is only the members of the Boards of those Statutory Bodies which exercise public functions that are subject to the jurisdiction of the (Integrity) Commission.

Telecommunications Company of Trinidad & Tobago (TSTT) is a company established between the T&T State and the British-based multinational, Cable & Wireless. C&W holds 49% of the shares in TSTT, while the State holds about 42% of the shares together with the right to nominate 5 of its 9 Directors.

That unanimous ruling has serious consequences for the viability of our nation’s integrity framework.

The intended purpose of that framework is to ensure a satisfactory level of transparency and accountability in the way Public Money is transacted and Public Functions are discharged.  There is still a strong case for this Integrity Framework as a necessary ingredient in the Good Governance of our nation. The Integrity Framework includes the Auditor General; the Integrity Commission; the Investments Division of the Ministry of Finance and the two Parliamentary Accounts Enterprises Committees.  Ours is the most vibrant Caribbean economy and the State is clearly the largest player, so the proper management of that sector is critical. Given the continuing rise in the waste and theft of Public Money, there will always be a need for an improved, more effective Integrity Framework to oversee these huge, controversial operations…

…continue reading this article at AfraRaymond.com

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Ethics, Political Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

CL Financial – CLICO bailout: Afra Raymond documents The Treasury Scandal

CL Financial Fraud

“In my view the failure and or refusal to account for the colossal and unprecedented expense of the CL Financial bailout is indicative of a ‘Quiet Coup‘ against our Republic.  I am deliberately borrowing Simon Johnson’s potent phrase, used to describe the coup of Financial Capital against the USA published in a fascinating and essential article from The Atlantic.  The fact that two successive administrations have remained bound to these arrangements and the low priority given to transparency and accountability in this matter all speak to the potency of the plotters.”

Afra Raymond gives ‘em hell with The Treasury Scandal

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Filed under Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption

Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Finance high-powered legal fight to keep public in the dark about CL Financial!

by Afra Raymond

Afra Raymond

Guilty Government Fighting Afra Raymond’s Freedom of Information request all the way

Please note that the JCC President, Afra Raymond, will be interviewed by David Walker of 104.7fm on Thursday 15th August, 2013 between 11:00am-12noon on the issue of “State Enterprises & Issues Arising Within”

Be sure to tune in!

We received the following from our old friend Afra Raymond. You should read the original at Afra’s own website.

Ministry of Finance Dance

This is the 12th July affidavit filed by the Ministry of Finance in reply to my claim under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) filed against them in this matter.

This is a most interesting document for several reasons – Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Crime & Law, Trinidad and Tobago

Court issues order: Afra Raymond can drag stonewalling Trinidad government before Judicial Review

FOI Order Trinidad

Tough guy, that Afra Raymond. Won’t take “NO!” for an answer from a government that doesn’t think it needs to obey the Freedom of Information laws.

They fired Afra from where they could in the news media and thought he’d go away – but still he walks on in search of the truth. They tried ignoring him and now he’s gone to court and obtained an order when most people thought he couldn’t.

Yup, this is getting even curiouser and curiouser!

Order granting leave to file judicial review in Afra Raymond vs Ministry of Finance and the Economy.

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Filed under Freedom Of Information, Trinidad and Tobago