Trinidad and Tobago’s national security bodies marked a new low this week in terms of organisation, investigative work, communication and, arguably, credibility.
Minister of Works and Infrastructure and ex-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner was at the heart of the chaos.
On Monday, the PSC issued a press release which claimed that investigations into bribery allegations against Warner, arising from the scandalous 2011 FIFA presidential elections, had been closed for the past two months.
The PSC, which is chaired by Ramesh Deosaran, informed the public that Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs will take no further action against Warner on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard based on the report given by Gibbs himself.
Gaspard subsequently denied ever offering such advice.
The PSC release also included several dates, which only further muddied the waters.
The Police Commissioner apparently sent a letter to the PSC on 21 March 2012 informing the latter body that the case was closed.
Coincidentally, on 20 March 2012, I contacted Warner based on new information received on this same case.
Wired868 received a copy of an affidavit sworn by Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) General Secretary Richard Groden, which alleged that he handed Warner an envelope containing a US$40,000 (TTS$243,200) bribe from another former FIFA VP, Mohamed bin Hammam, at his ministerial office and saw him place it in a drawer. Groden also accused Warner of fraudulently representing the TTFF.
So, on March 20, Wired868 asked Warner (among other questions):
“Did you use your post as Transport Minister to facilitate the flow of this money into or out of the country? Did you receive US$40,000 from Richard Groden at your Government office last year? If so, what did you do with the money?”
Warner did not respond and, on March 22, Wired868 published: “TTFF Secretary accuses Warner of collecting bribe.”
But, unknown to us, Commissioner Gibbs allegedly sought to close the case between the time of our letter to Warner and publication of our exclusive report with new information.
Five days after Gibbs’ alleged misinterpretation of Gaspard’s advice, Warner was officially appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) on which the Canada-born Police Commissioner is a fellow board member.
The PSC, according to its release, went on to state that it did not receive Gibbs’ letter until 12 April 2012—three weeks later.
The fact that written communication between two police institutions of this magnitude, both located in Port of Spain, can be slower than if Gibbs walked to deliver it himself should be worthy of an internal investigation in 1812; let alone in the electronic era of 2012. But I digress.
It took the PSC another four weeks to alert Opposition Leader Keith Rowley—who requested the investigation in the first place—of the Police Commissioner’s decision.
The PSC dispatched Rowley’s letter on 7 May 2012.
There is another coincidence. Warner was headline news on May 7 too.
On that day, Wired868 published a story titled “Warner bankrupt threat to TTFF” in which we revealed that Warner asked Sport Minister Anil Roberts to cut off funding for the football body unless it supported Harold Taylor’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential ambitions.
As usual, Warner knew the story was coming since he was contacted for comment.
And, three weeks later, the PSC finally decided to let the public know that Warner supposedly would not face any sanction for his role in the 2011 FIFA presidential scandal.
On 28 May 2012, Wired868 responded to Warner’s claim that he did not own the João Havelange Centre of Excellence by proving otherwise in a story entitled: “Warner lied about Centre of Excellence.”
And, in another bizarre quirk, the PSC decided, within hours of our publication, to reveal information on Warner that it had for nearly two months and which immediately deflated the negative publicity surrounding the Chaguanas West MP.
Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to get a response from the PSC on the timing of its releases.
The police work on this scandal, which the Police Commissioner took to the DPP, prompts questions too.
Wired868, a four-month-old site with a solitary staff member, telephoned past and present CFU, CONCACAF and FIFA employees in six different countries and interviewed officials who were suspended and reprimanded by FIFA as well as a whistleblower before writing on the bribery scandal.
Wired868 is not sure who Gibbs contacted but, after another round of calls today, we can confirm who were ignored.
The Police Service did not contact ex-CFU General Secretary Angenie Kanhai, who set up the Hyatt meeting and arranged the distribution of bribes to over two dozen Caribbean officials. No one called Groden either although he swore that he not only received US$40,000 put also passed it over to Warner.
And ditto for ex-TTFF President Oliver Camps who was allegedly part of the cover-up.
Gaspard referred to the police report offered by Gibbs as “threadbare.” But it does not begin to describe the state of the Police Service.
If correspondence requested by the Opposition Leader and involving a National Security Council member, Government Minister and sometimes Acting Prime Minister takes three weeks to move across Port of Spain, what does that leave for police complaints from the average citizen?
And what level of sleuthing leads to the closure of a high-profile case before any key witnesses are interviewed?
Wired868 feels an official investigation into this farce is mandatory and Gibbs should be sent on leave while it is conducted. Warner should also be removed immediately from his post as National Security Council member while this case remains unresolved.
And Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must tell the nation why she appointed a person suspected of an international crime to such a position in the first place.
Editor’s Note: Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs resigned his post, two months later, despite having 14 months remaining on his tenure.