CL Financial bailout, Section 34 scandal: The plot to pervert Parliament

Blind Man’s Bluff

by Afra Raymond

“Blind man’s buff  [or Blind man’s bluff] is played in a spacious area, such as outdoors or in a large room, in which one player, designated as “It”, is blindfolded and gropes around attempting to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid the person who is “it”, hiding in plain sight and sometimes teasing them to make them change direction.”

… from Wikipedia

In this round, we, The Public, are ‘it’…you see?

The entire ‘section 34 fiasco’ is churning in my mind, so I am calling it the Plot to Pervert Parliament.

The way in which the Trinidad and Tobago, its significant institutions and its legislature have been misled for the benefit of political financiers has given me pause.  The entire episode is truly revolting, even for those of us who have little faith in our political rulers.

Having listened to the PM’s address on this S.34 fiasco there are now more questions than answers.  The silence by the PM and other leading MPs on these documented facts during the Parliamentary debate on the repeal seems to amount to a calculated decision to withhold information.

The main questions for the PM are along two limbs – firstly, how does the AG’s absence overseas for a few days exonerate him?  We need to stay with this line, given that it is the principal one advanced by the PM after her research into the issue.

Secondly, there is the burning question of what is Volney’s true role in all this?  Did the PM ask him why he misled his Cabinet colleagues and the Parliament?  If so, what did Volney say?  If the PM did not ask Volney for his reasons, one has to be deeply skeptical about the idea that this single Minister outwitted the entire Cabinet.

The fact that this episode centred on the actual 50th Jubilee weekend was a powerful wake-up call to us all.  History is rich in irony.

Sidebar – Was S.34 the first time?

I am now recalling that the CLF bailout and shareholders agreement were never debated, they were both declared as fait accompli. What is more, as I wrote in this space recently, the Ministry of Finance is claiming that the contents of the presentation to Members of Parliament on the new bailout laws is secret. The S.34 fiasco involved an alleged stealing of $1Bn in Public Money and we are all now seeing the extent to which these white-collar criminals and their servants will go to cover their tracks. It is truly revolting.

So, the question is ‘‘Given what we now know and the fact that the CLF bailout involves many billions of dollars in Public Money, is it reasonable to assume in good faith that our Parliamentarians and Public Officials will be responsible and honest in their dealings?” I will be returning to this, it is turning in my mind.

For my part, there is no way we are lightly ‘moving on’ from this tragic place…this is the occasion to resolve a lot of this nonsense and put us on the road to a much improved system of governance. It is going to be a hard campaign, but we must have a realistic appreciation of our situation if we are to have any chance at prevailing.

After the PP’s election victory, the Steve-Ish issue presented a conundrum since the USA wanted them and the public wanted to see them face justice. The Extradition request was refused so that they can be tried here. That ruling was not appealed by the AG, who stated that the reason is to allow them to be tried here.

The result of the sudden reversal in the face of mounting protest, is that the Piarco Accused can now say to the Court that Parliament exercised its powers to repeal legislation upon which they were relying to seek freedom.  Parliament acted to reduce the rights of two individuals and the Court may be asked to rule that those actions of the Parliament have oppressed these men.  The recent repeal of this section seems to have fortified the case of the Piarco Accused in seeking freedom.

Proper Priorities of our Parliament

Our Parliament has been on holiday since 11th July, but it has been reconvened twice in that period.  The first occasion was in mid-August to satisfy an upcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force of our Financial Intelligence Unit.  All members voted in support of that Bill.  The second occasion was for the repeal of the controversial s.34 and that raised a question for me.  Why did the government agree to reconvene to repeal?  Was it because of our objections and criticisms, or was it the stated concerns of the USA?  In our 50th year of Independence, did the concerns of the USA outweigh our strong concerns?  A sobering reflection.

The Title of this article is a kinda medley, when you study that, in Whe Whe, #34 is ‘Blind Man‘, we have been outwitted.  One of my favourite moves, in those well-plotted spy thrillers, is the ‘Double-Bluff‘…This S.34 episode is a real cynical game of Blind Man’s Bluff….you see?

“…They’ve got 12 Aces up their sleeve!
So who the Hell can we believe?!
Steve?
Not even the love of your children’s enough…
To quell this cynical pain!
Can you show me a directing-sign?
Show me a sign!
On this Highway of Big-Tief and Fools…
You tief yours and I shall tief mine!
Leh we go down the Road an break the broken rules
So in this morning of another day
When decency will lose its way
Ray!
There goes another $100 Million again!
Back to the Same Ole Same!
….
The self-contempt is like a Badge of Hate!
Award yuhself!
It’s not too late!“

© Lypsoland Music. Lyric used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.

From the opening stanza of David Rudder’s ‘Back to the Same Ole Same‘ on the 2001 album ‘Autobiography of Now’

Where do we go from here?  That question is for the second part of this column.

Afra Raymond is a Chartered Surveyor.  He is President of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry and Managing Director of Raymond & Pierre Limited.  This series on the CL Financial bailout can be viewed or readers’ comments made at www.afraraymond.com.

3 Comments

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

3 responses to “CL Financial bailout, Section 34 scandal: The plot to pervert Parliament

  1. 34

    Go Afra! When can you come to Barbados and poke around here into the Clico – David Thompson – DLP connection?

  2. 158

    I like to go to T & T for Carnival and poke around in every connection I can get….

  3. Pingback: A distastrous combination: Weak controls over public money, and a culture of allowing white collar crime | Barbados Free Press