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Fixin T&T: Investigate Marlene for fraud and misbehaviour in public office

Civic watch group, Fixin’ T&T, has urged the Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams, to investigate Housing Minister and Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald for fraud, misrepresentation, misbehaviour in public office and breach of Parliamentary rules.

Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald. (Courtesy PNM)
Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald.
(Courtesy PNM)

The request is anchored on documents unearthed through the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, which show that McDonald hired her common-law husband, Michael Carew, and his brother, Lennox Carew, between the periods of 1 June 2010 and 8 September 2015 at her Port of Spain South constituency office.

The combined salaries of both employees accounted for 60 percent of the constituency’s monthly budgetary allocation of TT$45,700.

The following is the Fixin’ T&T press release:

March 15, 2016.

Mr Stephen Williams,

Acting Commissioner of Police,

Police Administration Building,

Corner of Edward and Sackville Street,

Port of Spain.

Photo: MATT president Francesca Hawkins (second from left) greets acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (centre) while MATT officials Sheila Rampersad (far left) and Jabari Fraser look on.
Photo: MATT president Francesca Hawkins (second from left) greets acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (centre) while MATT officials Sheila Rampersad (far left) and Jabari Fraser look on.

Dear Mr Williams,

FIXIN’ T&T submits to you the attached documents for investigation to determine whether payments made by the Member of Parliament for Port of Spain South to Michael Carew and Lennox Carew constitute:

1.      Fraud; and/or

2.      Misrepresentation; and/or

3.      Misbehaviour in public office.

4.      Breach of Parliamentary rules

The documents presented here are available to the public from the Office of the Parliament. They relate to staff payments at the Port of Spain South constituency office.

As you would be aware, these funds are released to Members of Parliament by the Office of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago and, as such, are public payments. The payments are governed by rules related to, among other things, the hiring of staff.

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

In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to the payments made to Michael Carew over the period 1 June 2010 to 7 September 2015 and Lennox Carew over the period 1 March 2011 to 7 September 2015 and 8 September 2015 to the present time.

Mr Michael Carew received a monthly payment of TT$13,400 while Mr Lennox Carew has and continues to receive a monthly salary of TT$14,000. Over the period 1 March 2011 and 7 September 2015, the combined salaries of both employees accounted for 60 percent of the constituency’s monthly budgetary allocation of TT$45,700.

The particular relevance of these facts is that:

1.      Mr Michael Carew meets the legal definition of spouse to the Member of Parliament for Port of Spain South, Marlene McDonald.

2.      Mr Michael Carew and Mr Lennox Carew are brothers.

3.      Mr Michael Carew and Mr Lennox Carew are both directors of the Calabar Foundation which, over a 15-day period in April to May 2010, applied for and received monies in the sum of TT$575,000 from the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs then headed by Minister Marlene McDonald.  The name Calabar Foundation was applied for on July 14, 2010. It was registered on August 24, 2010.

4.      We have been unable to verify whether Mr. Lennox Carew resided in Trinidad the entire period for which he was paid.

Photo: Housing Minister and Port of Spain South Marlene McDonald. (Courtesy LoopTT)
Photo: Housing Minister and Port of Spain South Marlene McDonald.
(Courtesy LoopTT)

In light of the above, FIXIN’ T&T specifically requests an investigation to determine whether the payments of the salaries to Mr Michael Carew and Mr Lennox Carew infringe any law of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and/or the rules of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

Sincerely,

Kirk Waithe.

Cc:

·         Mr Roger Gaspard SC – Director of Public Prosecutions

·         Justice Zainool Hosein (Retired) – Chairman of the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago

·         Mrs Bridgid Annisette George – Speaker of the House of Representatives

·         The Honourable Marlene McDonald – Minister; Ministry of Housing

·         Media

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright Reuters)
Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Reuters)

Editor’s Note: You can read the edited document for Staff and Salaries from the Port of Spain South Constituency, which shows initials for paid persons other than the Carews, by clicking on the following link: Staff and salaries PoS South Constituency Office 2007- Present Edited

AboutFixin 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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168 comments

  1. Tanya Carr there’s actually a Guardian article dealing with the DPP’s office shortcomings.
    http://m.guardian.co.tt/news/2016-03-19/dpp-hamstrung-lack-budget

  2. As I understand it these were Wade Mark’s rules that had been discussed by the previous Parliament and implemented with this new Parliament. Why are they acting as if they did not know what was in them?!

  3. Above all our investigative institutions need to be made completely immune to political manipulation as well as be adequately funded.

    • Huh, I live in Dekalb County, Georgia, which is famous for corrupt officials (I feel so at home here)…anyway I understand that at some point the Governor called in the Feds to deal with them….the last County CEO is in jail and some of the former Commissioners were recently sentenced, including a lady who used the county issued credit card for personal purchases, hired a close friend to do PR, gave contracts to friends…..ahem, ahem….the current CEO is a mess too, is only a matter of time for him…..

    • Why that is unlikely to happen in Trinidad and Tobago Tanya is the absence of adequate checks and balances to ensure those in authority operate above board.

    • Lol Tanya Carr ‘I feel so at home’!. Don’t know if u recall but Scotland Yard was here at a point in time. Wonder why they left? And if the nation was so hurt at Dana’s murder, why did we not insist on external body to investigate? On the one hand, we have to trust the system. On the other, seems like everyday we hear news that make us question the system!

    • TT needs new systems across the board – bottom line, or the country will NEVER improve. There is corruption at all levels of the US government, local, state and federal, at the same time there are mechanisms to detect and deal with it swiftly

  4. It’s sad to read some of the comments here, seems many Trinidadians, some of whom believe they are highly educated and advanced in thinking, still can’t grasp the major issues here and instead are caught up in nitpicking and blaming gymnastics…. …is it so difficult to understand that the Marlenes, Kamlas, Anils, Harts, etc are not THE PROBLEM but rather symptoms of a much DEEPER PROBLEM? The country’s governmental systems have FAILED to the point where regardless of who is in power the behavior is the same. The energy it takes to talk about when things happened, which relative was hired, who soing/did the same thing, etc could better be spent on pushing for modern effective systems that are open, transparent, ensure accountability and utilize technology….

  5. In a related matter the BBC right now is doing a segment on global corruption, it costs 2.6 trillion per year in loses, and negatively impacts GDP, resources, growth, etc ….apparently for many countries where corruption levels have been dropping, the use of technology is a major factor ….

    • I saw a report yesterday on BBC that highlighted India. The use of information technology (digital) for passports has made it possible for them to issue a passport in 48hours. It has virtually cut out the high level of corruption involved before. They are also encouraging citizens to make video or audio recordings of incidents of corruption and upload to social media platforms such as what’s app. They also have a website where complaints are lodged together with the video or audio evidence of public officials taking bribes. They investigate and get rid of them. They have moved up on the corruption perception index because of these measures.

    • Yeah, I saw it too. ….the age of citizens empowerment is here and unfortunately the TT govt does not realize this, and given the turmoil of the last 6 months this lack of understanding will be to their detriment….nooo, this is not business as usual, where you shout and complain about the previous administration then as soon as you get into power you settle in comfortably to do the same thing ….

    • Lester Logie…I have been suggesting that we use the scanner (recall the Minister could not confirm if it was working/in use) as well as sniffer dogs to help curtail import/export of illegal drugs and weapons. But we do not have the political will. Wonder how much money these trades add to the economy? And witness can be intimidated or worse, so if we are serious about crime, we need to install caneras nationwide-and also provide tax breaks for those who install them in their homes. Never mind about the urgent need for tax reform. And computerisation of licensing with officers being able to access on a mobile device, as well as ebc record of ID should be valuable tools. If we serious about dealing with the issues, that is. But implementing these may mean construction projects (notorious for elements of corruption) being temporarily halted.

  6. She has since been removed from the Cabinet.

  7. While I support the PM’s decision, the time is now to try and get it right!!!!! But I often wonder where were we last 5 years…… Hmmmmm oh wow and Trinidad and Tobago have awaken from their sleep….
    Thank goodness she is out hope the other MP’s take heed and get it right !!!!!

  8. Hmmm. Hopefully that’s only until the investigation is completed and she is sentence to a few years in jail for misbehavior in office.

  9. No she has only resigned as a minister

  10. If I was following Fixin TnT’s train of thought, I suspect Noel Garcia might be the next target. Just speculating. P.s. does this mean a by-election?

  11. Hesma Tyson – I assume you voted for PNM in the last election? And I assume you voted for the PNM because you strongly believed that the PP was corrupted, racist, unethical, bias, were mismanaging the treasury, and were not serving the needs of all the people of TnT. You desired to have the PNM in power because you believe they would govern for all and would be ethical, transparent, incorruptible, and would carefully manage our economy/treasury, right? So why in the world would you be tolerant of Ms McDonald and her highly unethical behavior? What message are you sending to your kids? That it’s okay to be unethical as long as others are doing the same? Where does it end Hesma? If we allow Ms Mc Donald a free pass now later on we’ll hear that instead of a few thousands dollars being siphoned off here and there to her “partners”, it’ll be millions or billions. Then what? Let’s hold our ministers to higher standards though matter what party they belong to. Let’s help protect the treasury so that our kids and their kids will have their just inheritance.

    • Thank you! That is the thinking of many fence sitters. All I have to say is…remember there is a court matter with some seats coming up..and local elections coming up. Don’t address issues of corruption-the opposition-rightly so-would milk it for all its worth. The PM has to walk the talk and make a genuine effort to restore confidence in our system of governance.

  12. No you need to bring them both to account and to say she must go when the other vipers and scamps got a free pass is madness.