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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.”