Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: The case of Gafoor’s chauffeur allowance has been badly misconstrued

Dear Editor: The case of Gafoor’s chauffeur allowance has been badly misconstrued

“The matter referred to concerns the chauffeur’s allowance granted to the learned judge in her capacity as a judge. The High Court found as a fact that the allowance claimed arose as a matter of personal entitlement.

“Up to that point in time, there had remained a question as to whether an office-holder so entitled to a chauffeur’s allowance had to actually employ someone but the Court determined that the claim was not dependent on whether someone was so employed.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which responds to criticism of Madame Justice Gladys Gafoor by letter writer Mohan Ramcharan, was submitted by Anthony DJ Gafoor:

Photo: Madame Justice and former Integrity Commission deputy chair Gladys Gafoor.

I write with respect to one Mohan Ramcharan’s letter published on 22 December 2017 of Birmingham, England regarding the imminent nomination of the next president of Trinidad and Tobago and, specifically, with respect to the writer’s reference to the possibility of Justice Gladys Gafoor being so nominated.

The writer refers to the allegation that the learned judge had been “cashing the cheques of a dead man for six years” and thus was “hardly a beacon of light in the morass of Trinbagonian corruption” whilst acknowledging that “what she did was not found to be criminal in T&T.”

Even if these statements contain the sum total of the writer’s objections and concern, the matter should be addressed—at least for the purposes of the record. In essence, the allegations referred to are manifestly inaccurate and capable of being construed as defamatory.

The matter referred to concerns the chauffeur’s allowance granted to the learned judge in her capacity as a judge. The High Court found as a fact that the allowance claimed arose as a matter of personal entitlement.

Up to that point in time, there had remained a question as to whether an office-holder so entitled to a chauffeur’s allowance had to actually employ someone but the Court determined that the claim was not dependent on whether someone was so employed.

Photo: Madame Justice and former Integrity Commission deputy chair Gladys Gafoor.

It is therefore not a matter of the issue not being found to be criminal as alleged but rather that this was an entitlement due to the learned judge. The implication that the situation in Trinidad and Tobago is different “as not being found to be criminal” can only be construed as an unfortunate statement which seems to belie (sic) a misunderstanding of the law.

As a matter of record, it should be noted that, in addition to holding judicial office as a Senior Magistrate and subsequently a Judge, Justice Gafoor also served with distinction as the Acting Solicitor General and Director of Public Prosecutions as well as being a formidable advocate, crown counsel and the head of the legal department at the Board of Inland Revenue as well as serving two terms as Vice-Chair of the Integrity Commission.

About Mohan Ramcharan

Mohan Ramcharan is a law student and a student of human nature and culture, who prefers cool logic to emotional ranting. A Trinidadian living in England, he observes the world through two lenses—and strives to share both views in his writing.

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22 comments

  1. Can a judge not err in her judgement? I have my own thoughts on that matter and it’s not a nice one.!

  2. The chqs were made to her, not her husband

  3. Ramcharan clearly lacks understanding as to the substance of the High Court’s ruling. The benefit accrues to the Judge, she is entitled to the money, not anyone else. How she sees fit to spend it is her concern. She could spend it, or not spend it (by not hiring a chauffer). She isn’t cashing just any “dead man’s cheques,” she’s cashing a check apparently made out in the name of her dead husband. In the ordinary course of business this would not be improper, especially IF (and this we don’t know) she has fiduciary oversight of the affairs of his estate, and then particularly so if she is a beneficiary (as is likely the case) of his estate.

    “Ah, she didn’t hire a new chauffeur until she was exposed in the newspapers of cashing – fraudulently – the dead husband’s cheques, some 6 years after her husband died”

    Claiming that her activities constitute fraud, as he does here, despite a judicial ruling that it does not, betrays perhaps his true motivation in pursuing the issue as he has.

    • I’m uncertain to admit if I find All this intriguing or amusing. Please clarify for me if the President Carmona $28,000 monthly allowance is different.As a lay person I observe the difference in the law for persons in High office ‘white collar crimes who go scotch free based on LAWYERS whom I often refer to as ‘spin doctors’, with their interpretations or arguments based on technicality. Indeed, the ordinary civilian caught in the same scenario is often jailed for fraud. Attorney Gregory Delzin said the President acted based on the terms and condition laid out in the SRC.However it was in 2013 when the President Secretary wrote to the CPO asking for clarification on the issue since it was the PNM government who enacted such a policy. The President made a requestfor the $28,000 and the CPO agreed and began paying Mr Carmona Interestingly enough the pUblic administer and Finance Matter whne questions were being asked about who approved the payment , both said they were unaware. MsSeepersad- Bachan PAdmin Minster at the time said allowances and perks had to go through her office. The then AG Ramlogan refused comment , but later on went on to say that the govetnmetn had no involvment it was the CPO. and that he only knew about it when the story broke in the MEDIA. Really? What is important to note is that the policy stated this sum was to be paid if the accommodation of the President was ‘unsuitable’ The President house was dilapidated since 2010. At the time MR Carmona made the request for the monies he was occupying 4 town house units at Flagstaff Hill. Was this unsuitable ? No the issue was he was not ‘occupying’ the official President’s house . ATTORNEY Delzin explained that even though he was at Flag Staff, he could not hold Presidential function or banquets, or host World leaders. Strange enough he was able to order millions of dollars in wine. To host who? If Flag staff was unsuitable?for hosting people who drank all this wine? “Feeding at the trough” People in high office talk to us like we are fools in this country. You just cant win. I have long realized that politicians sit in office and fix themselves. They play musical chairs as Government/Opposition, since there are no serious 3rd party, but it will happen. They rape the Treasury/PUBLIC PURSE and use the courts to justify their wrong doing defended by its corrupt lawyers and judges. When will this sordid state of affairs end in my corrupt country? Is the same thing over and over. Different strokes for Different folks , in a justice system that is blind in T&T. MY comfort is MY GOD IS WATCHING and he will ACT, since man is helpless to do the RIGHT THING.

    • Do I lack understanding of the judge’s ruling? Not at all. Are you legally qualified to tell the difference between these two questions:

      1) Is the judge entitled to a chauffeur’s allowance?

      2) Has the judge been cashing the cheque of a dead man?

      They are separate issues. If you can’t see that, all I can say is that you are the real exponent of ‘rumshop logic’ Carmona despairs of.

      If you read very (VERY!) carefully, you will not find me saying anywhere that the judge was not entitled to the allowance. What I am saying is that it was wrong for her to continue cashing cheques made out to a dead man, even if she had financial control over his affairs. That is fraud in most places, but apparently not in TnT. What I am saying is that the right thing to do would have been to inform them he was deceased and get the cheques made out to her (or her son since he seems to be a tad meddlesome).

      What I am saying is that she received a chauffeur’s allowance for 6 years although the new chauffeur confessed he was hired only after all this came to light… all this was in the public domain by the way.

      And if I were to be sued, I think the Express, Guardian and Newsday will be before me, as everything I have said was published in the newspapers long before I commented on the issue.

      Oh, don’t forget the goodly lady was sacked under dubious circumstances from the Integrity Commission also. Why is this relevant? Well, my complaint was against a person of this calibre being nominated for President. What she does in her private life is unimportant to me.

    • I thought the judgement stated that she was entitled to the payment. The chqs were made in her name not her chauffeur’s..the chauffeur (whoever he/she is/was is not an employee of the judiciary

    • Savitri I take it she continued to have someone listed as chauffeur and that person was her dead husband?

    • From what I understand she doesn’t have to list anyone. The allowance is part of the package

    • From this ongoing discussion, it is clear that some persons don’t research topics. Research, understand and analyse then provide a n informed opinions. This makes for a richer discussion. People need to take off their political blinders, Be objective on issues, since raping the Treasury have no race , colour and ethnicity. iI is simply stealing from ALL of US and depriving the next generation of opportunities and instead leaving debts for them

    • Savitri I’m not asking if she had to list anyone. I’m asking if she did. I’m guessing people didn’t imagine her husband’s name.

    • Lasana Liburd, I dunno, but I’m sure they would’ve seen him drop her off..I dunno what you really mean..whether she listed me, him, you or anyone else

    • Savitri what I mean is if her declaration form is willfully inaccurate then that is wrong and even immoral, even if there was no legal penalty for it.
      I can’t say for sure that it was. But that seems to be what I’m getting from this case.

    • Come, we could discuss over some peas shelling

  4. Mr Live Wire,

    I haven’t read such an amusing piece of drivel as this in a long long time. Obviously, from the name of the contributor, I have to wonder if he is related to the former judge?

    I want to make something perfectly clear – the fact is that the ex-judge cashed the cheques of her dead husband for 6 years – that much is known in the public domain. The issue of whether she was entitled to a chauffeur’s allowance is a SEPARATE matter. Why?

    Well, cashing the cheques of a dead person is fraud for the most part, unless it applies to ex-judges and lawyers apparently. See Varun Debideen and Gerald Ramdeen – although the court also gave them a bligh, which seems to be the norm for judicial officers but not Joe Public (http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20151017/news/case-of-the-living-dead). Just ask most people who accidentally cash pension or public assistance cheques for relatives who passed on.

    What would it have cost the ex-judge to stop cheques coming in the name of her husband, and request that they come in her own name or the name of the new chauffeur? Ah, she didn’t hire a new chauffeur until she was exposed in the newspapers of cashing – fraudulently – the dead husband’s cheques, some 6 years after her husband died (http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Gafoor_got_cheques_in_dead_chauffeur_s_name-115419329.html). For a senior judge with all the accolades the writer mentioned, I find this passing strange behaviour. If she was entitled to the allowance, surely the accounts paymasters would bend over backward to make the change promptly as possible?

    When I see unethical behaviour like this, I merely give voice to my thoughts that where there is smoke there is fire… and I want to point out why I think the fire is indicated where the smoke blows. And this writer, Mr Anthony Gafoor, wants to blow smoke up our as*es. What could explain the judges behaviour? Well, the logical inference is that she didn’t want to give up the chauffeur’s allowance and didn’t dare reveal her husband was deceased lest it be stopped. Another inference may be made that those in high positions get more greedy the more they receive – like a certain President and Housing Allowance claimed.

    Quoting from the Daily Express of 6 Feb, 2011:

    “Ironically, when Gafoor served as Acting Solicitor General, she gave advice to the then Registrar of the Industrial Court, who sought an opinion on the issue of the chauffeur allowance. In a circular dated May 26, 1986, Gafoor pointed to the Ministry of Finance Circular No 2 1981, in which it was agreed that “a chauffeur allowance be paid to holders of offices under the purview of the Salaries Review Commission for which a chauffeur allowance is payable, only if the holder of the particular office actually employs a chauffeur”.

    And:

    “Gafoor has a son, Anthony David Jalil Gafoor, who was appointed chairman of the Tax Appeal Board, with effect from December 15, 1998, a position which carries as one of its perks, a chauffeur. ”

    So, fighting for mommy makes this writer a biased individual who can’t see the wood for the trees…

    Sadly Anthony, your misguided allegiance to your mommy is doing a disservice to the country as a whole. How many persons will want a President whose reputation is tainted in this manner? Notwithstanding Justice Amora-Dean’s judgment, some of us suspect that the matter appeared to be whitewashed to protect the reputation of the Judiciary on the larger scale and your mommy on the smaller.

  5. Case of entitlement vs benefits.

  6. Kion S Williams, another example of us publishing different viewpoints .

    • Once the seed is planted, it’s difficult to see the “other” side

    • Savitri, my question was entirely focused on the coverage of the CJ as I usually have total faith in the research done by Lasana and wired868 in comparison to the dailies. However, I just felt/feel that all these letters to the editor are appearing fast and furious on the site whilst I wasn’t seeing anything from the CJ’s side here despite it existing . It felt/ feels unbalanced as compared to coverage of other issues in the past. Lasana gave me an explanation. However I am just specifying that my concern was not on the general work applied by wired868