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Fixin’ T&T: Rowley must remove Marlene McDonald immediately

The following is a press release from Fixin’ T&T, which calls for the immediate removal of Housing Minister Marlene McDonald pending an investigation into her conduct:

Photo: Minister of Housing Marlene McDonald. (Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Minister of Housing Marlene McDonald.
(Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)

FIXIN’ T&T insists that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley immediately remove Ms Marlene McDonald as a Government Minister pending the outcome of investigations into the allegations levelled against her.

This, in light of the admission made yesterday (Monday 11, 2015) by the Housing Minister about enquiries she made in 2008 as to the status of an application made to the HDC by someone with whom she had a personal relationship.

It is the only appropriate action that can be taken if the PM is true to his campaign promises of restoring decency along with good, honest, transparent and accountable governance to Trinidad and Tobago.

For any Government Minister to suggest that direct enquiries into a matter such as this would not wield influence, is naive at best and perhaps dishonest at worst; even if it is not within his/her own ministry.

Ms McDonald’s statement yesterday begs more questions that need to be answered.

FIXIN’ T&T expects this probe to be fair, efficient and expeditious.

About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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505 comments

  1. This is what Al Rawi said . Judge for yourselves. It clears nothing up. Page 485
    Sen. F. Al-Rawi (cont’d) Madam Vice-President, there are three matters relative to this public confidence that I wish to refer you to, as anchored on the foundation that I have set in the budget documents and in the ranking of competitiveness and entrepreneurship. The three matters which I refer to are, in fact, statements made in the Lower House. I note very kindly, Madam Vice-President, that you allowed the hon. Sen. Baptiste-Cornelis to refer clarifications in that House—to provide clarifications in that House—and so, I take comfort in proceeding as I now do.

    The first allegation made relative to confidence was done by the hon. Dr. Roodal Moonilal in his contributions to the debate on September 17, 2010. Minister Moonilal went to an internal audit report of the HDC and indicated that for the years, certain issues had arisen. He spoke of the Managing Director, Mr. Garcia, who resigned from the HDC with effect from June 30, 2008. He was paid a compensation package equivalent to 18 months‟ salary.

    I refer to page 22 of that. He says:

    “That was not the bad part I really wanted, you know. It is this: „The internal auditors also noted that there were two wire transfers totalling £35,000. The transaction dates were outside the scope period of this report. These transactions were made—”

    He said that a payment had been made to the Managing Director‟s son, and he called his name after permission was granted by the hon. Prime Minister. He said one Christian Garcia. And that a TT equivalent of money was sent to him, and that there was no indication that this was paid back or being repaid. Madam Vice-President, that is a very serious allegation which rocks the concept provided in this budget. It rocks the global competitiveness reports and it touches and concerns the country reviews which our country rates. You see, there is a gross difficulty that I have, and that is in the fact that all of the documentation exists in the HDC; and I know, because I brought a box from it whilst I was there. [Desk thumping] Lying right there for anybody who wished to ask, instead of throwing allegations of corruption which hurt all of us and our country‟s competitive index.

    Lying right there was the proof that there was a note to the HDC Board that an approval was given, loan documentation provided, stated at high rates. Secondly, that money was completely repaid and never paid to one Christian Garcia, but in fact, wire transferred to a hospital in London which was the beneficiary of the emergency medical services which he was receiving there.
    Sen. Hinds: They tell lies.
    Sen. F. Al-Rawi: Madam Vice-President, I wish to commend that this honourable House take stern action in encouraging persons to be careful in their comments as to persons‟ good name. Sen.
    Hinds: Privileges Committee.

  2. This is what Al Rawi said . Judge for yourselves. It clears nothing up. Page 485
    Sen. F. Al-Rawi (cont’d) Madam Vice-President, there are three matters relative to this public confidence that I wish to refer you to, as anchored on the foundation that I have set in the budget documents and in the ranking of competitiveness and entrepreneurship. The three matters which I refer to are, in fact, statements made in the Lower House. I note very kindly, Madam Vice-President, that you allowed the hon. Sen. Baptiste-Cornelis to refer clarifications in that House—to provide clarifications in that House—and so, I take comfort in proceeding as I now do.

    The first allegation made relative to confidence was done by the hon. Dr. Roodal Moonilal in his contributions to the debate on September 17, 2010. Minister Moonilal went to an internal audit report of the HDC and indicated that for the years, certain issues had arisen. He spoke of the Managing Director, Mr. Garcia, who resigned from the HDC with effect from June 30, 2008. He was paid a compensation package equivalent to 18 months‟ salary.

    I refer to page 22 of that. He says:

    “That was not the bad part I really wanted, you know. It is this: „The internal auditors also noted that there were two wire transfers totalling £35,000. The transaction dates were outside the scope period of this report. These transactions were made—”

    He said that a payment had been made to the Managing Director‟s son, and he called his name after permission was granted by the hon. Prime Minister. He said one Christian Garcia. And that a TT equivalent of money was sent to him, and that there was no indication that this was paid back or being repaid. Madam Vice-President, that is a very serious allegation which rocks the concept provided in this budget. It rocks the global competitiveness reports and it touches and concerns the country reviews which our country rates. You see, there is a gross difficulty that I have, and that is in the fact that all of the documentation exists in the HDC; and I know, because I brought a box from it whilst I was there. [Desk thumping] Lying right there for anybody who wished to ask, instead of throwing allegations of corruption which hurt all of us and our country‟s competitive index.

    Lying right there was the proof that there was a note to the HDC Board that an approval was given, loan documentation provided, stated at high rates. Secondly, that money was completely repaid and never paid to one Christian Garcia, but in fact, wire transferred to a hospital in London which was the beneficiary of the emergency medical services which he was receiving there.
    Sen. Hinds: They tell lies.
    Sen. F. Al-Rawi: Madam Vice-President, I wish to commend that this honourable House take stern action in encouraging persons to be careful in their comments as to persons‟ good name. Sen.
    Hinds: Privileges Committee.

  3. It’s a parliamentary record. Available to public

  4. Definitely someone needs to account . We must be clear on exactly who tho. From what I see so far, Noel Garcia has to provide an explanation on the actual disbursement, and the hunters need to investigate the Hansard which the AG claims vilifies him on the loan arrangement. I don’t think it makes a board incompetent if a figure larger than what was approved was clandestinely paid out.

  5. and raise more questions as to the vigor with which the ag defended garcia

  6. The AG can claim he did not know the amount wired was over $400,000 and the board only approved the 160 loan. However that would show up the Board as incompetent and Garcia as a thief

  7. If the board approved 166 and garcia indeed transferred over 400 then someone needs to account

  8. Is the AG implicated in relation to the larger sum paid then?

  9. Noel Garcia approved the payment to his son’s account . Look at the persons who signed the wire transfer letter in Timothy’ previous post.

  10. So who approved or arranged for the disbursement of the larger sum?

  11. In most cases the letterhead document is only the original that goes to the bank. The copies for internal would not be on letterhead.

  12. Where is the letterhead on this document?

  13. It is being reported that not only was this a much larger amount than was ever approved by the HDC board, it was also done before the board approved it.

  14. I once sought some information from the ministry of legal affairs and was assisted by a very nice Ms Ramadhar.At that time the minister of legal affairs was Prakash Ramadhar.I wonder if the young lady was related to the minister and if her employment was facilitated by the minister himself.

  15. He took the loan before it was approved . When the board found out it had to be ratified after the fact .

    • smh. if this is the case then why oh why did the pm bring him back. and to run udecott to boot

    • Yup I agree. What I don’t understand is Lifesport already supposed to be under investigation. They could have started with the investigative articles in the newspapers. Or the report. Why was nothing done to that PS but the PS at the Mimistry of Legal Affairs being dealt with? Same yardstick….

    • I guess at this point, the PS as Accounting Officer for the Ministry would have to explain who were the short term officers hired, why, what mechanism was in place to account for their attendance and performance during the period, how they were paid, were written contracts offered and agreed to etc. That’s the easiest way to track ‘ghost’ employees. If the PS cannot provide this info and account for gov’t funds…well….

    • I really wondered about those two appointments.

    • Buss throat. I long for the day when we see ‘high’ officlals made to pay or stay

    • Abuse of credit card, loan facility-all of these are contrary to the actions of a person of integrity. How can they not know right from wrong but in charge of managing country’s money? And when we start accepting the exceptions, it becomes the norm. Interestingly, exceptions are only made for persons in high positions and better economic circumstances than the average citizen.

  16. According to Faris, this was well ventilated in Parlliament early in the UNC government’s term and they were cleared as employees were entitled to loans for medicals.

  17. Rowley will be best advised to not let this one get the better of him.

  18. Maybe purely coincidental…what was the donation/contribution to Calabar? And what was the cost of the HDC house?

  19. Well done on the information. Greatly appreciated.

  20. Can’t wait to see the mental gymnastics on this one. lol

  21. “29. (1) For the purposes of this Act, a conflict of interest is
    deemed to arise if a person in public life or any person exercising
    a public function were to make or participate in the making of a
    decision in the execution of his office and at the same time knows
    or ought reasonably to have known, that in the making of the
    decision, there is an opportunity either directly or indirectly to
    further his private interests or that of a member of his family or
    of any other person.”

  22. “26. A person to whom this Part applies shall not use his
    office to seek to influence a decision made by another person or
    public body to further his own private interests.”

  23. “CODE OF CONDUCT
    23. This Part applies to a person in public life and to all
    persons exercising public functions.
    UNOFFICIAL VERSION
    UPDATED TO DECEMBER 31ST 2014
    MINISTRY OF LEGAL AFFAIRS http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt
    Use of office.
    Insider
    information.
    Influence.
    24. (1) A person to whom this Part applies shall ensure that
    he performs his functions and administers the public resources
    for which he is responsible in an effective and efficient manner
    and shall—
    (a) be fair and impartial in exercising his public duty;
    (b) afford no undue preferential treatment to any
    group or individual;
    (c) arrange his private interests whether pecuniary
    or otherwise in such a manner as to maintain
    public confidence and trust in his integrity.
    (2) A person to whom this Part applies shall not—
    (a) use his office for the improper advancement of
    his own or his family’s personal or financial
    interests or the interest of any person;
    (b) engage in any transaction, acquire any position
    or have any commercial or other interest that is
    incompatible with his office, function and duty
    or the discharge thereof;
    (c) use public property or services for activities not
    related to his official work; or
    (d) directly or indirectly use his office for private”

  24. “22. (1) Where it appears to the Commission that a breach of
    this Act may have been committed or a conflict of interest may
    have arisen, it shall order a person in public life to place his assets
    or part thereof in a blind trust for the purposes of this Act on such
    terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate
    and file a copy of the trust deed with the Commission.”

  25. “21. (1) A person in public life who—
    (a) fails, without reasonable cause, to furnish to the
    Commission a declaration, or further particulars
    which he is required to furnish in accordance with
    the provisions of the Act;
    18 Chap. 22:01 Integrity in Public Life
    LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
    UNOFFICIAL VERSION
    UPDATED TO DECEMBER 31ST 2014
    MINISTRY OF LEGAL AFFAIRS http://www.legalaffairs.gov.tt
    Integrity in Public Life Chap. 22:01 19
    LAWS OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
    L.R.O.
    (b) knowingly makes a declaration that is false;
    (c) fails, without reasonable cause to give such
    information or explanation as the Commission or a
    tribunal may require;
    (d) fails, without reasonable cause to attend an enquiry
    being conducted by a tribunal appointed under
    section 15 or knowingly gives false information in
    such enquiry,
    is guilty of an offence, and liable on summary conviction to a fine
    of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment
    for a term of ten years.
    (2) Where, a person in public life is deemed to have
    been in possession of undisclosed income or assets and fails to
    account for such further income or assets, or where upon an
    enquiry, it is determined that such other income or assets have
    existed and the person in public life deliberately omitted to
    disclose such information in the declaration filed with the
    Commission, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine
    of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for
    a term of ten years, and where the offence involves the deliberate
    non-disclosure of property the Court may in addition—
    (a) where the property involved is situated in
    Trinidad and Tobago, declare that it be forfeited
    to the State;
    (b) where the property involved is situated outside
    of Trinidad and Tobago, order that an amount
    equivalent to the value of the property (the value
    to be assessed as directed by the Court), be paid
    by the person in public life to the State.”

  26. “12. (1) A declaration required under this Act, shall include
    such particulars as are known to the declarant, of the income, assets
    and liabilities of himself, his spouse and his dependent children.
    (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where—
    (a) the spouse was not ordinarily living with the
    declarant for a continuous period of six months
    during the period in relation to which the
    declaration was made”

  27. I am made to understand that our PM made it clear that he will not fire the Minister in question nor invite her to resign. So, let us just wait and see how this matter will be handled if the public pressure the PM to act.

  28. The Minister should be arrested and charged. The evidence is so blatant and glaring. In the US she would have been led out of parliament in handcuffs.

  29. I do not think that the Minister should resign and have never called for any firings or resignations, even with high Public Officials to whom I had directed serious criticism – eg Calder Hart, Ewart Williams (does anyone know where Mr Williams is now serving within the Public Service?) or even then Prime Ministers Patrick Manning and Kamla Persad-Bissessar …the responsible Public Officials should conduct themselves properly and must be held accountable for the effective and lawful discharge of their duties…There are clear and huge problems within the HDC which this ‘Marlene’ issue both both obscures and highlights, that is the powerful paradox at work in the heart of this episode… I will be writing on this for next week’s column…

    • Well, seems they start with the PS at the Ministry of Legal Affairs. Don’t know if you read the statement/excuse from the last PS to the PM on why action was not taken against the PS at the Ministry of Sport. Let me fill you in-cause his name was not called in the report! I will leave that there.

  30. I suspect the social media pressure will eventually get to the PM.

  31. I’m willing to wait the week to see how the Prime Minister responds.
    Marlene though shpuld have had thr decency to resign immediately.

  32. Remove her for what? Steups! The people removed the PNM in 2010. They earned their right to govern again. I am beyond tired of the PeePeePissBrigade Clownship.

  33. “After staunchly sidestepping the issue when it first arose two weeks ago, Housing Minister Marlene McDonald on Monday did an about-face and admitted that, in her previous incarnation as Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, she did make inquiries to the Housing Development Corporation on behalf of a close personal friend.

    That had not been Ms McDonald’s initial reaction, though. Calling the allegations made by Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge “a wild goose chase,” the incumbent Housing Minister had stoutly denied that she owned any house supplied by the HDC, even though this was not the allegation made.

    Rather, Mr Sturge had accused her of using her then-ministerial position in 2008 to obtain favourable consideration for one Michael Carew, who has been variously described as a close friend and the common-law husband of Ms McDonald.

    Now, she is admitting that she did make an enquiry on behalf of Mr Carew, whom she described as “a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, who was a retired teacher and with whom I had a personal relationship.” But she also asserted that as Community Development Minister she “performed no functions in relation thereto and the public resources for which I was at the time responsible did not include the allocation of housing.”

    This argument lacks conviction. Even the greenest Government Minister would know better than to make an approach in this way. Most public servants interpret such inquiries as an indirect directive to ensure that such people are given preferential treatment.

    This may be why Prime Minister Keith Rowley, in a media conference on Tuesday, emphasised that Ms McDonald had addressed her inquiry to the then Housing Minister. This, however, means only that the Minister with direct responsibility would have sent the inquiry to the relevant public servant, so Dr Rowley’s argument is even more specious.

    Minister McDonald has implied that her inquiry was simply a standard duty for a citizen of T&T who was one of many such people for whom she made an inquiry.

    This is an unconvincing explanation. After all, according to Minister McDonald herself in a statement to Parliament last November, there are 168,065 applications before the HDC. Obviously, then, any citizen who can get any Government Minister to make a personal inquiry is well-connected in some way, whether by party card or personal relationship or fewer than six degrees of separation.

    However, apologists for whichever party is in office typically ask, as though it is a rhetorical question, whether the relatives and friends of Government ministers should not get assistance. The answer is no, they should not. Precisely because they have that pull-string, anyone personally affiliated to government ministers should go through the normal procedures that most citizens have to endure. Indeed, were this the norm, those procedures would almost surely see rapid improvements in efficiency.

    At any rate, it remains an open question as to whether Ms McDonald committed any wrong-doing, with the allegation as to whether she gave Mr Carew money to buy the upper-income property still to be addressed. Much depends on what further evidence may come to light. For now, however, she has the Prime Minister’s staunch support.”

  34. If Dr. Rowley fires Marlene Mc D, then he has to fire Nicole O or else it will seem as though he is setting a double standard. Marlene Mc D has been a close supporter of Dr. Rowley, so he must tread lightly.

    Marlene’s track record: Secret scholarship
    $3 million dollar community centre
    HDC house for boo

  35. No more time to waste on distraction….have a great day all!

  36. The more parties that keep the issue at the forefront, the better. Let us not only have the politicians and the media doing this as they both tend to do it at their own convenience.

  37. Maybe they should FIX their name because they are not FIXING anything!

  38. The Parliament keeps issues at the forefront.
    The news and other tv and radio programs like Morning Edition do the same thing too.

  39. Keeping issues at the forefront. We are a forgetful people.

  40. I have even joined them at the Parliament on occasion when I thought that I had to be there to show support for the issues raised by Fixin T&T. They definitely serve a purpose!

  41. In my opinion, all NGO’s have a part to play. They, along with the MSJ, have consistently spoken out on issues of national importance. We may not like what they say nor when they say it, but definitely they have been consistent, unlike many other NGO’-which probably only speak out on issues of their interest, in all fairness.

  42. Why didn’t the UNC deal with Marlene when they were in power and looking anything to make the PNM look bad?! For that reason alone I could say that there is probably nothing here but something to try to stir up the population in the same way that misinformation on the property tax is being disseminated by the Congress of Prakash and the UNC faithful.

  43. And it’s not all of a sudden!
    I always thought they were a waste of time.
    Dr. Rowley is the one who had the UNC’s feet to fire, not Fixing T&T.
    Waste of bloody time!

  44. Come on guys…we cannot continue like this…Business as usual…If you don’t care what we think and whether you get re-elected or not, think about where this is leading the country.

  45. Dr. Rowley and the other opposition MPs did that!
    Who needs Fixing T&T?
    Did they unearth anything that the the then opposition hadn’t already brought to the nation’s attention?
    What did they do to Fix T&T?

  46. Look how they have you all beating up over Marlene while they are laughing in the background about their success in diverting attention away from them.

  47. All of a sudden Fixin’ T&T irrelevant, after holding the Persad-Bissessar administration’s feet to the fire for five years?

  48. The issue is not the witch hunt ( which I admit occurred) or the guilt of Moonilal or others of the UNC party. The issue is not even the money value or quantity of matters that Marlene is improperly connected to. Nor is the issue the amount of time that passed ( by the way these allegations were circulating for quite a while now). The issue is that she is an minister of government and correctly subjected to the scrutiny of the people and the expectation of the highest ideals. It’s a matter of principle. And it’s a movement towards integrity in government and the eradication of corruption and nepotism- aspects of the culture in government that have our country where it is right now. To achieve that change we have to be loyal to principle, integrity and correctness. Not to party or persons. and not excusing or rationalizing wrong doing, But calling it out and making it clear that it’s no longer accepted.

  49. They don’t know how to say what they really want.

  50. Is it just me or the response from a body calling itself ‘Transparency’ seems to involve more gymnastics? Lord, have a position nah, this in the public domain long enough.

  51. Who de hell is Fixing T&T?
    They have been blowing hot air for the longest while and have done nothing to better this country.
    They are irrelevant!

  52. I think someone asked about my ability to write. lol “Once upon a time there was a fella named Karew.
    Retired teacher and De Minister’s reputed Boo.
    Some say Common law but she say he was just a Screw
    Along with some other nuts and bolts, yeah that Too
    Figure out a way to get a house and he get Through
    Even use the Minster’s money, the docs looking like iz True
    But de Minister bright like dat , she is no Booboo
    Use she weight to get him another cheque and we money it Flew
    Get caught by meh boy Adrien, who tell she long time he Knew
    Buss de mark on she but she get away like them fellas in de Coup
    Laugh at him and say cry now nah, go Boohoo
    But he had is revenge as Stooge and company start to cook to make a Brew
    Get a lucky break when she and Jerls fall out and is allegations Anew
    Jerls nah, de one who dey does call de black Syrian or is it Jew
    Time for Keithos to act now he say he doh know what to Do
    Once false Move with Marls and he will end up in Doodoo
    Hear she have one setta info on him enough to put he cock in a Stew
    UnC people calling for she head forgetting how quiet dey was when de lady say for a house, Glen she Blew
    PnM people performing mental gymnastics saying business as usual, UnC do it Too
    The independents watching saying, what the F@#K wrong with the party Crew
    Whilst I’m over here thinking how we could flush all ah dem down de toilet, or as they say in England, the Loo.
    Hope this poem don’t offend too much I cyah take on getting Sue
    So to avoid being too serious this poem I will change the view.
    And make a joke about how Marls is not only corrupt but one big fat Moo Moo.”

  53. This alleged wrong doing happened 7 years ago and is now being raised by the UNC after they have left government with massive corruption hanging over their heads and an audit that is to be conducted at the HDC.
    People are so gullible that they are unable to see that this has been raked up and blown out of proportion as a distraction away from the bobol that was going on under Moonilal at the HDC.
    People have fallen hook, link and sinker for this nonsense which is what the UNC set out to do in the first place.
    No one is talking about Moonilal anymore, it’s now about Marlene and a house worth $400, 000.00, and everyone is adding their two cents to it to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  54. This alleged wrong doing happened 7 years ago and is now being raised by the UNC after they have left government with massive corruption hanging over their heads and an audit that is to be conducted at the HDC.
    People are so gullible that they are unable to see that this has been raked up and blown out of proportion as a distraction away from the bobol that was going on under Moonilal at the HDC.
    People have fallen hook, link and sinker for this nonsense which is what the UNC set out to do in the first place.
    No one is talking about Moonilal anymore, it’s now about Marlene and a house worth $400, 000.00, and everyone is adding their two cents to it to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  55. When stacy reported corruption to the previous pm about surushramsaran why they was not campaigning for him to go

  56. Maybe it’s the fabulous bottle of wine I shared tonight eh, but I’m flabbergasted at the dotish attempts by some here to defend pure arseness on the part of the Minister. If the PM does not rescind her appointment forthwith he will have lost a great deal of credibility as far as I’m concerned. But, I’m just one single voter I suppose….

  57. But the real question is this:
    Would you beat out Marlene for a free house…… Dun dun dunnnnnnnn.
    #manhavebelly

  58. Anyway, it is what it is. The Prime Minister has said that he wants more info before he makes a change.
    And Marlene has found herself balancing on a ledge.
    From experience, we know it is only a matter of time when a politician finds him or herself in such a position.
    More skeletons will eventually come crawling out and the Prime Minister’s hand will be forced.
    I’m only suggesting that Rowley takes in front and acts under the facade of integrity at least. Either way, Marlene’s days are numbered.
    The way the PM handles this sacking will say plenty.

  59. Yes, the Integrity Commission cleared Marlene before. But, like I said, we would feel a lot more comfortable if we had people without skeletons to clean out the corrupt mess that is our public sector.

  60. Politicians will be politicians. it is there nature. But for people to pretend that they are ‘unbiased’ and for ‘cuntry’ I find that unconscionable.

  61. (Trinidad Express December 2014)

    Incumbent Port of Spain South Member of Parliament (MP) Marlene McDonald claims she did not know her companion was a director of a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that received grants from the Ministry of Community Development, which she once headed under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) administration.

    In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express last Thursday at her Piccadilly Street constituency office, McDonald broke her silence on the allegations of misconduct levelled against her.

    She feels she has been subjected to class discrimination from PNM colleagues because of her humble background and her elevation to chief whip and deputy political leader of the PNM.

    McDonald also dismissed allegations that she was under a fresh investigation by the Integrity Commission (IC).

    Admitting she shared a relationship with Michael Carew, a director of Calabar Foundation, McDonald claims she was in the dark over the grants given to the NGO under the Community Action for Revival and Empowerment Programme.

    “Michael Carew has his own home and I have my own home. We are together,” McDonald said.

    Lewis Carew and Victor Mc Eachrane are listed as the other directors of the NGO.

    McDonald and McEachrane were colleagues when she was employed at the Diego Martin Credit Union before she decided to throw her hat into the political ring…

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Marlene-dismisses-all-allegations-286476091.html

  62. It is HDC policy for a minister from another ministry to inquire as to the status of a close friend’s application for housing?

  63. And on the balance beam tonight let’s hear it for….hahahahhaahaaa

  64. So HDC policy allows for clear wrongdoing?
    I give up.
    Tell me the policy flawed and needs changing. But this mindlessness is too much. As it stands, according to HDC policy Marlene has not done anything that isn’t sanctioned, standard practice.

  65. It’s clear wrong doing. Use of office to influence a process to benefit a friend. The kind of thing to resign or be fired for. It’s a sad day when intelligent people lose their objectivity. It’s not answering the issue by citing the UNC infractions either. It’s so clear. We need to hold out politicians to a standard or things won’t ever change. It’s really up to us u know. We get the government we deserve.

  66. Nah, it’s clear wrong doing. Use of office to influence a process to benefit a friend. The kind of thing to resign or be fired for. It’s a sad day when intelligent people lose their objectivity. It’s not answering the issue by citing the UNC infractions either. It’s so clear. We need to hold out politicians to a standard or things won’t ever change. It’s really up to us u know. We get the government we deserve.

  67. Ok Wayne Sturge, stop talking rubbish now!

  68. I didn’t say I have no problem with it – the allocation policy needs review. But we nowhere closer to seeing anything/hearing anything (because Dick-Forde not talking) where Marlene ask for a house fuh she man.

  69. Where were you when UNC ministers were doing that and raping our treasury.
    You all are jokers, not to be taken seriously.

  70. You deserve to have Kamla and her thieves governing over you once more!

  71. And on whst basis are you condemning her Shaun Lynch, UNCism?

  72. Who knows? It could be that Manning and all tell Dick-Forde give out houses to people who help PNM win the 2007 election. Marlene admit to asking the status of the application because she know it inside long time.

  73. The letter may not be real because Moonilal still has some of his mischief makers at the HDC.

  74. I didn’t say the letter wasn’t real – Sturge and others have been going on the premise that the letter was written by Marlene’s assistant to HDC management when it wasn’t so. The Minister of Housing at the time, through her assistant made the request.

  75. Moonilal still has some of his people at HDC, he could get anyone to do it.

  76. But the letter says to allocate a house to him!
    This is pure mischief.

  77. Yes, she made an enquiry. The Minister of Housing got the allocation to happen – was the Minister bound to do it?

  78. Actually, it’s the Advisor to the Minister of Housing who wrote to the Allocations Manager at HDC. See my post below.

  79. Anybody could have penned that letter recently to set up Marlene,especially someone who was sent on leave pending the audit.

  80. According to the article I’m posting, Odetta Alexander was actually the advisor to the Minister of Planning, housing & The Environment at the time, Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde:

    http://legacy.guardian.co.tt/archives/2008-03-22/business2.html

  81. Scenario: $6 million lotto draw. The winner is the NLCB chairman’s common-law wife.
    His response: So my boo can’t buy a ticket too?
    Any issues?

  82. Kyon when you say “single people”, you mean single parents or just singles?

  83. So am can we stop the HDC from giving single people houses now?

  84. What wife?
    Women came forward and reported that Bress-Man Glenn promised them HDC houses for suck prick.

    Lasana ah could say “suck prick” right?

  85. So Kyon, if Glenn Ramadharsingh had gotten a house for his wife which she then promptly rented… No issue? Somehow I doubt that.

  86. We need to change and strengthen the system

  87. All yuh remember Bress-Man Glenn right?
    I’ll say no more!

  88. For Dr. Rowley and our newly elected government.

  89. Well let her show us all the other letters she wrote in support of all the other people who came to her asking for houses. And let us hear all the reasons she put in her letters why said people should get houses.
    And if Ministers and MPs running around getting houses for people, the HDC really should stop with their public key distribution charades as evidence that the process is transparent.

    • @chabeth I think they should stop it regardless. And this process is nonsense. Even if two ppl are married, and one person who does not have their name on property applies and gets through with an HDC house, it does not mean the other person does not own property, and that they not going to rent it out. Or that one of them may have inherited a house but their name not on it. And ppl would definitely use any connection to get a house whether they need it or not and rent it out if they not using it. The system is set up to exploit such loopholes. On top of that, they not going to declare rent as income so we lose out on tax $.

  90. Lol I know about the first part re: donation, I just never thought of it possibly being used to pay for the house. A whole nother side to that story now if that could be true.

  91. However I believe the man should not have been given a house if he had no dependents

    Legally he was not the husband

  92. I’m merely saying ppl go to MPs and ask for help getting houses

    What do u think the MP does to help the person?

    Pray?

    She was not the minister of housing at the time

  93. This is all common knowledge Nerisha, even before the GE.

  94. Kyon Esdelle, you serious? You cannot blame somebody for abusing their power to call in a favour for real estate for the person they screwing? You serious? You think that should be the norm?? That that is blameless behavior?! You see nothing wrong with that?

  95. How I see this is Mr Carew via Calabar Foundation received $500+K from the Min of Social Dev (or whatever it was called at the time) for the construction of Community Centres. Firstly, the NGO was registered after the chqs were cut. Could this $535K (I think it was) have gone to paying for the house in full? Adrian Clarke…help!

  96. Don’t blame me for the governance model

    I actually proposing changes but I ain’t from your generation nor do I have power

  97. It just now dawned on me that like integrity, ethics isn’t a concept that Trinidadians are naturally familiar with.

  98. Kyon Esdelle which is why I keep saying leave politics and politicians out of the distribution process. Why not have a committee which includes members of NGOs to sort through applications and distribute houses and do away with the obvious political conflict of intetest by allowing the minister to distribute up to 20% of houses built with our taxpayer dollars! And we need to consider that building and allocation can affect outcome of elections-which is the intent, clearly.

  99. Ok thanks for the answers. Now let’s hear from the marlene defenders. lol

  100. Influencing the outcome of a tender

  101. Same thing ….. conflict of interest.
    Fuad, like Marlene would have used his position in government to look after the interests of a loved one.

  102. The problem is the hdc housing model and the governance model

    I can’t blame a minister for asking

    I will blame a minister for granting stuff in a ministry the minister controls unethically

  103. I can’t get stopped on the PBR and tell the police to hold Dana’s killer before they give me a ticket.

  104. Hang who you ketch! When there is enough info to press charges on Moonie, then he will go down too

  105. Lasana Liburd, it nuh over until the fat lady sings….

  106. Hahahahahahaa. Anyone else care to take a stab?

  107. Huge diff

    The state is the client in the contract bid and the son is making a profit

    In this case the spouse is the client and the state isn’t losing money

  108. So let us do an experiment. Let’s ‘imagine’ that Fuad as then minister of health made a call to glenn as them minister of the people to ‘inquire’ about an application his son’s company had for a tv ad bid. Let’s go on to imagine that we eventually found out that fuad’s son’s company got the contract. What would you say to that?

  109. Moonilal run so much racket in HDC and all you all could talk about is Marlene’s equiry about a house.

  110. If nothing about this situation is an anomaly for Marlene and asking for houses for her constituents is just what she does… Then she should produce all the other documents in support of all the other people she has helped.
    This country will stay in the cesspit with people supporting this kind of nonsense.
    And the PM might want to change his mind on keeping her… He done already use a state funded trip for party business. He quickly getting into shady ethics territory.

  111. There was already guidelines

    But lie it went out the door for political support

    Ministers had said hdc shouldn’t be hooking up bachelors with pads to get dates

  112. As I’ve been saying MPs shouldn’t be ministers because constituents ask mps for help and MPs have to hold ministers to account

  113. Thanks Lasana.
    Now allow me to demonstrate the difference between cultures where standards are vastly different. If you recall some years back a New York City politician was caught sexting women who weren’t his wife …. nothing illegal there, but he was obliged to step down from office because it was understood that his behavior was unethical.

    Now in Trinidad on the other hand we have an MP who used her position to expedite the application and approval of an HDC home for someone with whom she is said to have shared a close personal relationship ….. clear conflict of interest yet we can’t come to a consensus that her behavior was unethical.

    Ethics isn’t an opinion ….. ethics is a moral principle!

  114. Lol. You have a point. In the UK, they prioritise families and definitely women with children. Maybe they can create a formula for the stuff.

  115. I also think single applicants shouldn’t get houses

    I get cuss for that the other night

  116. If you asked me, the Housing Ministry should create a group of investigators to go through its allocated houses, identify violations and turn people out and/or take legal action where necessary!

  117. Okay Vernal, so I was informed that it is definitely against the rules to rent the property!
    So Marlene might not have broken any rule by her request for her boo. Although there is an obvious conflict of interes.
    But did she know what he did with that apartment? I doubt anyone in their right mind would accept that she didn’t.
    Did she report it?
    Even if Marlene escapes with her request for her sugarplum, she can’t get off with the man then using the place in a manner that violates HDC rules.
    I think that is shocking behaviour for a Housing Minister. And, with an already corrupt system, I can have no confidence in such a person being in charge.
    In my opinion, Marlene should go.

  118. You know, had a similar case been uncovered in North American or European politics their media would have already found and presented all of the relevant facts and we would not be here debating over what is fact and what is rumor.

  119. In TNT Corruption is only a problem if you (your friends, your family or your tribe) are not benefiting from it.

  120. I am sorry for Trinis who are supporting Marlene. They are demonstrating how corrupt minded the population has become.

  121. Descend into what Vernal Damion Cadogan??
    He said I was defending Marlene and I said he was supporting the UNC?
    Why are you so upset about that?

  122. Someone suggested that the Fidelis Heights houses were not subsidised by the Government and there might not be any rules that forbid them being rented out.
    If that is the case–no taxpayers’ money and no rule against renting the property for profit–then I think it would change the complexion of this somewhat.
    She would have still used a favour to get her “boo” at the front of the line. But there would have been nothing illegal about what they did with the property. And it wouldn’t have been tax dollars wasted.
    But I wait to see if this can be confirmed. Because I’m not sure that even Marlene mounted this same defence for herself.

  123. I don’t know why these discussions must descend into this. Just because someone disagrees with something a PNM MP does does not make that someone a UNC Melina Hutchinson.
    Elsewhere it is common for Shaun Lynch to be called a PNM.

  124. And I suspect that you are commenting for the sake of supporting Kamla and her gang of thieves.

  125. Fixing T&T needs to shut the hell up.
    Like they getting dunce like Kamla and her thieves
    Since when is somebody fired for enquiring about the status of a matter, especially the Housing Minister who has the authority to do so?
    Like they looking to unfix what Dr. Rowley is trying to fix.

  126. What kind of “personal relationship” was this? Was he her ‘boyfriend?
    IC declarations asks about husbands & wives ..

  127. If my recollection and understanding are correct then we have precedent that should inform the happenings of this case.

  128. And I think his defence at the time was ‘that was meh wife own’

  129. This point of ic declarations is very important I suspect because if memory and my understanding of the situation serves me right panday was jailed for not declaring his ‘wife’s’ london home.

  130. Did not read all the comments but Maybe another issue arises and that is the filing of IC declarations. My understanding is that one declares for themselves and their spouses. If by Marlene’s admission via a press conference to ‘clear the air’ where she said she and the retired teacher HAD a personal relationship – then it must be asked if this relationship defined as a common law one and if so did she make ic declarations for him during the tenure of their relationship.

  131. Let he has not sinned cast the first stone

  132. DO NOT FIRE MARLENE MACDONALD , SHE DID NOTHING WRONG

  133. It’s already too late . The Calabar evidence is even more damning but has not hit the public since it was not ventilated by a Senator. This is live and still before the IC. This house issue has just given it new life

  134. Fair play to Rowley in moving so quickly to say he would keep Marlene though. Which was a good PR move in that he tried to nip the story before it got legs.
    It throws the ball back into the UNC’s court to come up with something new or defeat his reasoning.
    I think it was the wrong decision. But it was smart from a PR standpoint I think.

    • I disagree; detractors would argue that is arrogance coming through. If you are being objective, you need to listen to the concerns and address them, not let them fester.

    • That is exactly what he did Nerisha. You might not agree with his decision. But he acted.
      Kamla would just hide and duck from the press for days or weeks and hope everything blew away.

    • Lasana Liburd I meant for the Minister to address them though lol. If these ‘allegations’ have been around for years, they not going away just so; she need to clear her name and cannot be in office while doing so. That is the expected standard of conduct in public office.

    • Might be arrogance. Might be that she simply cannot logically address them.
      Anil Roberts is a very intelligent fellah. But it ent easy to sound clever when you are trying to justify wrongdoing.

  135. How is life in the land of Ostrich? Head in the sand – butt in the air.

    Marlene ; Secret scholarships – “it wasn’t me.”
    Invisible 43 million dollar Community centre? “It wasn’t me.”
    HDC House? “Not me”
    Oh well….

  136. The big ministries are Works, Housing, Finance, Security and Energy. Rowley must have thought long and hard before putting her there, so I understand his reluctance to make a change.
    But I suspect this won’t go away. He should be the one thing that Kamla was not: proactive!
    Don’t wait to be embarrassed before acting. Hold a meeting and decide how to salvage that situation.
    If the UNC does find more damning evidence, you will have to get a Plan B anyway. So locate that Plan B one time.
    The country cannot handle bad ministers but worst of all in those aforementioned ministries.

    • @lasana-proactive? This has been over her head since GE. As for the Minister of Energy, hmm. The solution to the problem seems to be to shield them from the public; I recall the Minister of Energy did not know what type of business a player in rge field was in, and the obvious conflict of intetest in soliciting funds for beauty pageant resulted in a slap on the wrist. These things do not instill confidence in a Minister in such a key ministry at this critical time.

    • Well, I’m talking about when it was brought into the public domain at least. I’m no expert on this matter.

  137. I think there are too many issues here to be brushed aside so easily.
    Do ministers really personally ask other ministers for favours for constituents? Or only really special ones?
    Because I want to believe that Marlene wouldn’t personally contact the Housing Minister for every resident who said they wanted a house.
    Is it okay for special favours to be granted to spouses and relatives of minister when we are talking about access to public goods?
    If it was her husband, did she not automatically have a stake?
    Did their combined salaries make them eligible for that house?
    And, of course, was she party to the illegal use of the house? Did she know of its misuse and not alert anyone?

    • Did someone not say she was an MP? (so many confusing “statements of fact” …apologies if I am getting it wrong. Probably correct she would not have asked the Housing minister on behalf of most members of the public….she was obviously treading a fine line to do it for her spouse, but i note you said “if” he was her spouse …so…perhaps we need to be clear on what are the facts of this matter….

  138. Someone said as much to me regarding assistance from an MP…apparently it is possible…but again…perhaps not likely to actually work out for most people…because the same person who said it…is also still waiting…i do not see how enquiring on a person’s behalf…(which is what I read)…can be perceived as some sort of action requiring investigation….but perhaps i need to read the story again…forgive me if it is not at the top of my list…there are too many other issues … unless they can show me there is some kind of evidence Ms. McDonald was distributing houses to all and sundry of her relatives…

  139. And constant questions arising, questioning the leadership. Why did she not address these allegations in the public domain? Where is the pre-action protocol letter? One would expect her to deal with it, or the PM to do so.

  140. I hope she goes because she can’t be trusted with ministerial powers.

  141. I hope she stays because she’ll be peeing her pants anytime somebody suggest racket to her

  142. Truth is Marlene ain’t going no where because all the MP’s have done the same thing she has call Minister of Housing for a Bligh

  143. yea rassclat Mortgage Finance have interest in my property too…just because they lend me money to buy it…fakkery

  144. Minister McDonald’s role in this matter needs to be thoroughly and urgently investigated. This does not look good!

  145. At best Marlene’s role in the acquisition of this home for someone with whom she shared a close personal relationship as well as assist in payment for the home presents a case of conflict of interest.
    Though it might not be illegal it is in fact highly unethical and if we are insisting on an elevated standard of governance we must reject outright both illegal as well as unethical practices therein.

    Marlene hadda go!

    • Else you opening pandora’s box as to what is acceptable or not, and these grey areas should never be allowed to be our ethical standard. But since we seem to need outside help to determine right from wrong, I wonder what bodies like the local chapter of Transparency International have to say about the situation. Curious the gov’t issues a statement they would not be acting on ‘allegations’, but accusations are ‘allegations’ until they are investigated and these allegations prove to be true or not. Moreover, if ppl were following, there have been investigative stories in the media providing some proof; that can be a good start to investigating these allegations. And if they were false, the Minister is free to sue for libel and clear her name.

  146. Brian you are correct . Any subsidized unit cannot be sold or rented for 10 years after purchase . This is a possible case of money laundering .

  147. For her husband come on I too went to my mp and you know what the allocation officer told me no mp cannot tell them who to give house to wait my turn that was 2005 it’s now 2016 and I still living in my mother house in a one room . Guess that rule applied to some

  148. Nothing will come of this.. #prettycertain

  149. I thought that HDC housing was for ppl who cannot afford to buy a house with cash and need help to get long term payments in order to cover their needs.

  150. These are not the times as the set up with Eric Williams and Franklin Khan, that turned out to discredit innocent men, not this time, wheel!

  151. The influence over the house distribution is indeed a non issue. The bigger issue is the co mingling of her personal funds in the transaction and the house being used as an investment property to produce rental income .

  152. Then I guess the investigations will address this. But the current issue of McDonald interfering in the distribution process is weak imho.

  153. This is not the only HDC property that launderers have done this with .

  154. Money launderers do not put their name on properties directly . They lend proxy owners the money to buy the house and hold a lien on the property in exchange for monthly payments .

  155. The renting of the house is the problem. In that respect it should be taken away from Carew.
    Is providing the downpayment for a home illegal? Is her name.on the deed? Unless her name is on the deed she isn’t a co owner.

  156. Mc Donald also part paid for the house by depositing over 400k into Carew’s account so can be deemed having a financial interest in the property . The property is also being rented which is against the law. Trinidadians are too inherently corrupt to understand the difference between right and wrong . The lady has even more serious allegations still before the IC after one year. The Calabar issue is still live.

  157. Don’t move her ,she’s the iron lady , keep her !!!

  158. What is UNC worry ,you was in charge but greed have you all on the other ,sit and enjoy,PNM in charge, no body listens to anybody.SYFM.

  159. Many MPs go to ministers to highlight the plight of individual citizens in and out of their constituencies. She simply made a query on the status of a document that should have been process already. Stuff like this happens all the time. Wayne Sturge is grasping at straws for political mileage.

  160. Back in 2004/5 thereabouts when I applied for a HDC home I was told that one way to improve my application was to reach out to a MP and have them write a letter of endorsement for and on my behalf. About 25% of HDC homes can be distributed at the discretion of Ministers or MPs. Afra Raymond can correct any inaccuracies here. So, I am unsure that Marlene McDonald has done anything the laws of the country doesn’t allow her to do. I never accessed that route…but it is an avenue available to all citizens applying for a home. Is it abuse? It seems so. But has she done something wrong? No.
    Again, I am subject to correction.

  161. This woman has and will always be a liability to the “new” PNM politics and policies that Rowley is trying to promote!

  162. I have to support this call; if the shoe were on the other foot, the PNM would have been calling for the removal of the Minister. There is a document circulating showing her requesting his application to be favourably considered. Of course, party supporters say nothing wrong, everybody does it. That does not make it right. And there are other allegations which, in fact, are more serious and can be deemed fraud. These issues should have been addressed and cleared before putting her back up
    And the PM’s response that he not firing her-well, that’s a good sign. Same was said about Jwala. It is about time this process of assigning housing be reviewed, as it is a real concern that it can impact on the outcome of an election.