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Kamla skeptical of intelligence memo; but mum on alleged Warner pact

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar broke her silence this morning to respond to questions arising from a leaked United States intelligence memo. The document alleged that the former prime minister was not only aware of corrupt activity by her former minister, Jack Warner, but also benefitted from it.

Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar celebrates victory at the 2010 General Elections. (Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2015)
Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar celebrates victory at the 2010 General Elections.
(Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2015)

For her response, Persad-Bissessar  ignored Wired868’s questions, created queries of her own and answered those instead.

Did the former Prime Minister advise Warner to quit his football posts, after the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal in order to head off a prolonged investigation that might unearth damaging information on the ex-FIFA Vice-President and his financial support of the United National Congress (UNC)?

Was Persad-Bissessar’s decision to sack Warner made after a tip off by the United States Department of Justice and again designed to insulate the UNC from foreign investigators?

The Opposition Leader preferred to focus on the document’s inability to conform to traditional correspondence protocol.

“I am not convinced that the document is genuine,” Persad-Bissessar said. “There is no letterhead, no signature or otherwise to verify the source of the document and, no date on the document.”

The document in question was a memo addressed to Scowcroft Group senior advisor and former CIA director James Pavitt, which was unearthed by author Mary Papenfuss during investigations into former CONCACAF general secretary, Chuck Blazer, for a book she co-authored with Teri Thompson titled American Huckster.

Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left), former vice-president Jack Warner (centre) and ExCo member Chuck Blazer. (Courtesy Play The Game)
Photo: FIFA president Sepp Blatter (left), former vice-president Jack Warner (centre) and ExCo member Chuck Blazer.
(Courtesy Play The Game)

The memo was not a final report and promised further information on, among other things, the extent of Warner’s financial help to the UNC for the 2010 General Elections.

It cited “sensitive sources” close to Persad-Bissessar for the bulk of its information and alleged that the then prime minister not only allowed Warner to use his government portfolio for corrupt gains but also tried to shield him to protect her party’s interest.

According to the memo:

Warner contributed a great deal of money (we are working on the amount) to the national campaign. In the opinion of a very sensitive source, Persad-Bissessar also understands that the bulk (of) Warner’s funds come via corruption.

By June 2011, the public reports of corruption involving Warner, Mohamed Bin Hammam, and Sepp Blatter became significant enough for the Prime Minister to weigh in on the side of those urging Warner to step down from FIFA, before the investigations turned up dramatic evidence of corruption that could not be explained or ignored.

Warner kept his Ministerial and Party posts, which allow him to continue to profit from graft, but nothing on the scale of his activities in FIFA.

Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) makes an appearance alongside former Cabinet colleague and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (right) at the launch of the 2010 Under-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. (Courtesy FIFA)
Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (centre) makes an appearance alongside former Cabinet colleague and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (right) at the launch of the 2010 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
(Courtesy FIFA)

The memo does in fact contain a few obvious errors such as conflicting dates for the elections that saw Persad-Bissessar replace Patrick Manning as Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister.

The Opposition Leader initially declined comment when Wired868 asked her to confirm or deny the allegations contained in the memo.

Having assessed the document—and, possibly, noting that the Scowcroft Group also remained tightlipped—Persad-Bissessar offered her own response that focused on what she felt an intelligence memo should look like. And a sweeping general commentary on Warner’s extradition case.

It is my respectful view that it would be highly irresponsible and reckless of me to comment in any way on matters that are presently under investigation by law enforcement and/or the subject of criminal proceedings both locally and abroad as that may prejudice ongoing investigation or criminal proceedings arising out of these investigations. 

These matters are now the subject of a transnational investigation which is being conducted by the US Department of Justice in collaboration with various governments across the world. The investigation spans the entire footballing world and day by day the net of persons who are under investigation is spread wider.

Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing. (Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)
Photo: Former Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice president and TTFA special advisor Jack Warner (left) gets a police escort after an extradition hearing.
(Copyright Diego Urdaneta/AFP 2015)

Persad-Bissessar also claimed that, as prime minister, her Government did all it could assist the United States’ extradition proceedings.

“When I was Prime Minister the then Attorney General lawfully assisted in the investigation,” said Persad-Bissessar, “by cooperating with the US authorities and providing all requested information with respect to Mr Warner’s extradition that is now the subject of legal proceedings.”

The Opposition Leader was less talkative where her own relationship with Warner was concerned. But, with no signature and silence at both ends, the mysterious memo is unlikely to lead anywhere.

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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39 comments

  1. Another fake e-mail ?

    PNM people real idle boy…

    and in good PNM style,,,

    :”never mind that the e-mail is fake, please tell us if the accusations in the fake e-mail are real”…

    smh ….

    Look I have a letter from Massy asking Imbert to get rid of Jawala and re-introduce the old outdated forex system so that Massy can get the majority of the nation’s forex ….

    the letter might be fake…
    But can we get Imbert to answer ?

  2. wasnt Warner her best performing minister

  3. Her own ‘intelligence’ is known to be fueled by ‘Cold Duck’!

  4. Disrespect of the highest “I saw I heard,I listened.She told him repeatedly to apologize for and he refused,till she had to suspend the house for 3 minutes.

  5. This will never stop until these set of jokers are remove from the Parliament they are not serious with the Business OF the Country

  6. UNC disrespected the speaker of the house on Friday 10 .6 .16 the discrimination towards African will not end until Dr Rowley leave office as pm for the unc is on a ethnic power struggle an if they have to use African to achieve their goal they would not hesitate

  7. To much disrespect by UNC towards African even the speaker of the house

  8. Corruption of the highest in the past but now take nothing and turn into something,when the true God is not worshipped what does one expect,I pray that the government of the day will keep a level head and stay focus in spite of all the distractions.

  9. Best line of defense is attack.

  10. They only assisted the US after the Fall Out with Warner, who is Tanty Kams trying to Kid??

  11. Hey, I guess you can’t bluff a SC. Lol… Wonder if the Captain would have spilled his guts :-/

  12. Thats good journalism Lasana Liburd sad most media outlet rather talk about flash than substance

  13. Mel, I knew full well with my first two calls that she was trying to work out if I had more than the memo as evidence eh.
    Sadly, I didn’t know. She was happy to talk once she felt she saw my full hand.
    But still, as Judy-ann noted, she didn’t want to say anything that might be used against her at a later date.
    Thanks for the lil chats tho eh Kamzie! 🙂

  14. And God forbid that the authorities tried to track this “man” down to determine the veracity of that statement eh.
    Like an x-ray of the dog’s tummy for traces of Geography homework.

  15. Sometimes when you don’t comment or circumvent the pressing issues and replace them with red herrings, it speaks volumes of your inability to answer the question. Is it because of the answer that you would give if you answered truthfully?!

  16. Hard luck dey I……..”ah man” borrow mih phone!

  17. No publicity is bad publicity [said Tanty when Lasana called]

  18. MR. SPEAKER

    The average price of crude petroleum: (WTI) peaked at US$113.9 per barrel in April 2011 before falling slightly to UbS$96.3 per barrel in June 2011.
    Let me remind them that their budgeted price was US$65!! So again, what is he talking about??? If this not deceit then, what is??
    More Importantly, Mr. Speaker: What was the real state of our economy when they came into office and what have they done since then?
    The fact is that all our macroeconomic indicators were very good when this Gang of 29 took office in the second quarter of 2010!
    Mr. Speaker: Unemployment was at 4.8% at that time, one of the lowest levels ever recorded in any CARICOM country!! Mr. Speaker our foreign exchange reserves stood at over US$9 billion when the Gang took over the reins of government!!
    There was also already over US$3 billion in the Heritage and Stabilization fund! So they met the country with a combined US$12 billion in savings and reserves!!
    Yes, Mr. Speaker this was what the PNM left in place!!
    Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, Our public debt to GDP ratio was at about 38.5 percent!! This was way below any panic point, in fact, this was one of the lowest you could find anywhere in the world!! Additionally, our international credit rating was an “A” look at this Mr.Speaker.
    But as a people we have been like sheep swayed by any loud voice spewing bullshit propaganda. We as a people need to become informed voters and quickly. So rather than see all the macroeconomic and microeconomic indicators as well as a 40%+ detection rate for crime and a growing nationunal security infrastructure all people saw and heard was Calder Hart. We as a people in 2010 have been extraordinary fools. Just a lil facts

  19. Yuh killing mih here Vernal! Hahaha…

  20. Kamla ent easy nah. Nice that she had the belly to take your calls! Even though she had nutten tuh say!

  21. All Tanty hadda say is “ah man” borrow she phone.
    Talk done!