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Offline 1-868

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Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« on: May 22, 2015, 05:17:29 AM »
Allyuh real quiet on this one


Ventour Resigns

Emailgate probe terminated: Integrity commission deputy chairman flabbergasted

ntegrity Commission deputy chairman Justice Sebastian Ventour yesterday tendered his resignation saying he was "flabbergasted" with the Commission's decision to terminate its investigation into Emailgate.

Ventour invited the media to his St Joseph home yesterday after numerous requests for an interview. In the 19-minute interview he made it clear he was a man who stood on principle and could not stay with a Commission that misled the country.

The Integrity Commission, which has a history of being plagued with controversies, now faces potential collapse as prior to Ventour's resignation, another member, Dr Shelly-Anne Lalchan, tendered her resignation on Wednesday.

However, when the Express visited Lalchan's medical office at Endeavour Road, Chaguanas, yesterday, her relative said she was not prepared to speak at this time. He insisted that Lalchan's resignation had nothing to do with Emailgate and it was a personal family issue that led to her decision.

Ventour on the other hand had no qualms in speaking his mind and dared anyone to challenge his position.

The retired High Court judge said the Commission did not sufficiently investigate Emailgate, adding that the content of the e-mails must also be looked into.

He repeated that the letter sent to Israel Khan SC on May 19 was "incorrect" and he himself was surprised to learn about it as he saw it on television.

In a letter dated May 19, 2015, the Commission's registrar Martin Farrell wrote Israel Khan, SC, stating that pursuant to Section 34 (6) of the act, the commission was "satisfied that there was no or insufficient grounds for continuing the investigation" into Emailgate "and accordingly this investigation is hereby terminated".

Khan is the legal counsel for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and former attorney general Anand Ramlogan in the emailgate affair.

President Anthony Carmona appointed Justice Zainool Hosein in November last year to head the Commission with members Ventour, Lalchan, petroleum and environmental engineer Deonarine Jaggernauth and accountant Pete London.

Ventour disclosed the Commission held a meeting on Tuesday this week-the very day the letter was sent to Khan-and at that meeting he did not like the way the discussions were going and he left. He confirmed that Lalchan also left the meeting after him.

Despite two members walking out of the meeting, the chairman pressed on with the move to issue the letter to Khan.

According to Ventour, Emailgate is far from closed.

Efforts to contact Hosein yesterday proved futile as calls to his phone went unanswered.

The Office of the President is expected to make a statement today on this matter.

Following is the transcript of the interview conducted by reporters with Justice Ventour at his St Joseph home yesterday:

You confirm you have tendered your resignation?

Yes I have.

Is it related to Emailgate?

Yes it is

In what way?

Because I didn't like what was said to the public of Trinidad and Tobago, totally incorrect and I couldn't be part of that. I just have no choice but to resign. I took an oath of office when I got my instrument of appointment to discharge my functions without fear or favour, affection or ill will and that implied a sense of being honest and truthful and when the decision was taken to put into the public domain what was said in that letter, I knew it was incorrect, not true and therefore I indicated I was not going to be part of this.


Is there insufficient grounds to continue the investigation?
Whatever is said in that letter is incorrect.


Did you find out about it (the letter) through the media?
That's right.


Does that mean that all five people on the Commission did not sign off on that letter?
I don't know.


How did it happen? Was a meeting called? Explain the process that took place.
We had a meeting and we discuss things at a meeting, we agree to disagree on matters. At the end of the day I think the chairman is the one responsible for the decisions based on the discussions following a meeting by the members of the Integrity Commission.


Is your decision based on the fact that there is outstanding information that has been requested by the Integrity Commission that has not been furnished?
I am totally flabbergasted how anyone can say that we have brought the investigation to an end and we have seen it fit to inform those who, I don't want to call names at this stage, those who are involved to say that we can go no further.


Did you tender your resignation itself today in person?
Yes, in person.


Did you state your reason to the chairman?


What is your relationship with the chairman and how do you think the chairman handled the situation?
The chairman is pretty good, we agree to disagree as in every organisation.


Would you link him in particular to the outcome of this probe. Do you think his tenure is untenable now?
No, I have no comment on that.


Did the chairman force this upon members?
No I wouldn't say so at all.


Do you believe you are the only member of the Commission who found out about it that way? (through the media)


Is it possible this letter (to Khan) was dispatched without a quorum?
There are five members of the Commission. Three is a quorum.


Is it possible the letter was dispatched with fewer than three? Should a matter like this should have been dispatched without all five agreeing on it given the high profile nature of the matter?
We don't all have to agree to come to a decision, very often we come to a disagreement but once there's a majority....


Did you and Dr Shelly-Anne Lalchan leave that meeting when it was agreed or stated that this was going to be the statement?
I left before her. I didn't like how the discussion was progressing.


On your departure you knew what the result was but didn't know about the letter being dispatched? Did that take you completely by surprise?
It did.


What do you suggest be done now when the Prime Minister went to the Parliament yesterday and said she's vindicated by the Integrity Commission, the only last body to give a judgment on this right now is the police, do you think the Integrity Commission should re-open its investigation at this point in time?
Oh, that is not for me to say, a decision has been made, in my absence. I query the correctness of that statement and I am pretty sure I cannot be contradicted, I dare anyone to contradict me.


So this case should not be closed at this point in time?
In my view? NO.


That statement that was released was premature?
My words-incorrect.


No one is really is, as far as the Integrity Commission's statement says, no one is really cleared per say because in your view the investigation is incomplete?

That's not for me to say, I just disagree with the correctness of the statement. As a result of the statement, someone or individuals are cleared, so be it.


What would you have required for it to be complete?

If we had completed the investigation.


Which would have required what?
Several things. I took an oath of secrecy under the legislation, I am now allowed to talk about matters.


The Integrity Commission obtained through Google information which showed that emails addresses were fabricated such as anan@gmail.com and there was no way emails sent or received from that address, so in your view, having a bogus address is not enough to clear this matter? Are you looking at the content? What are you looking at that you are not satisfied with?

That is an interesting question because I think that if you are doing an investigation you should not look at form but substance, that's my view and the fact that Google had responded as to the form, I think one needs more than that.


When the meeting was called, was the chairman asked to consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions and did he refuse?

I can't answer that.


What should the people of Trinidad and Tobago do if there is no faith in the Integrity Commission, and what next?

I believe in honesty and truth and there are certain principles in life that we have to stand up firm for. When I took my oath the last thing I would have thought is that I would be part of any statement that would mislead the public of Trinidad and Tobago. I want no part of that. That in my view has been done, I am out.


Do you detect any political links within the Commission?

I can't answer that.

Do you believe anyone was pressured into releasing that statement,or taking a position?

I wasn't pressured, I cannot speak for the others.


Did you expect a conclusion in the Emailgate matter?

Absolutely not.


Given this strong position you have taken, do you think the Integrity Commission can continue?

That's for the President to decide.

Do you think the Integrity Commission is necessary and it's able to carry out its functions considering that this will lead to a collapse? Why do you think it has to collapse?

We are not indispensable, neither of us, Dr Lalchan or myself. And it may be that the President might see it fit to appoint two persons to replace us. The Commission goes on.

I think the Integrity Commission is an absolute necessity in a country that has respect for values, integrity etc.


Can you put on the table any reasons why an inaccurate conclusion would have been arrived at this juncture or before the investigation, in your view, came to an end?

- Let me ask a question that letter that came from the Integrity Commission, do you remember?

Reporter: that there are no or insufficient grounds to continue.

Ventour: That is incorrect...we have not yet in my view investigated the Emailgate, we have not.

At all or thoroughly or sufficiently well?

Sufficiently well. Yes, we have dealt with Google, Google has responded, what about the other matters...Several names were mentioned, what happened to the others. Is it because we only got two (names) that's the end of the investigation for Emailgate? Come on now.

You are stating publicly your position through the media, but at the end of the day the allegations made in Emailgate are very grave...do you think your resigning is enough, shouldn't you go a bit further and call for a re-opening of the case or the resignation of the chairman?

That would be very improper of me to think along those lines, calling for the resignation of the chairman, I won't do that.


But you do not think that based on the premature conclusion that the investigation should not continue under that directorship?

Maybe it should, but that is not for me to decide, I have expressed my views and as a result of the views I have expressed, I decided to part ways with the Integrity Commission because I believe that is the right thing to do.


Are you concerned that if this investigation is not thoroughly investigated...what about other matters? Does that not bother you?

Anything that is wrong bothers me. If the conclusion that is wrong, then I will certainly be bothered.


What's next for you?

For me? Integrity has to mean something for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and if it doesn't it, then I am sorry. I stand by principle, let's just do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, let's just do that.

I just want to stand up for what is right, was is truthful and what is honest.


Your understanding is that Dr Lalchan would have probably felt in the same way that you do?

I would like to think so.

She's indicated personal reasons. That's a matter for Dr Lalchan to deal with.

 The Integrity Commission as it stands now can be politically infiltrated?

What does that mean? Sounds like a coup, I don't know.

Phenomenal, lovely atmosphere.

Offline Bourbon

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2015, 05:53:29 AM »
This was just too much comess to keep up with. Cliff notes up to this point:

Tanty Kams hire a lawyer from the states to say that she cleared. The man cite the 1st-31st of September 2012 as the scope of the investigations. Lil uproar ensued....the lawyer send a next letter apologizing and attempting to correct. Problem is the signature was significantly different between the two letters.

Kams take this and run with it and use it to suspend Rowley from parliament. As expected..bachannal ensued.
The Deputy DPP come out and say the investigation still continuing and the scope wider than stated in the letter. It cautioned against using information obtained from diplomatic channels in public like that and said no person should judge their own case. Initially the branded as "PNM" by the sheep, they took an immediate 180 when Kams claimed the letter therefore vindicated that she was in the clear. The AG hit back..and then the Integrity commission issued a statement saying they cant declare the scope of the investigation but as far as they concerned there is nothing to investigate.

And now this.

What a country.
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus ;with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

Offline grimm01

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2015, 07:40:41 AM »
Emailgate is the gift that keep on giving. I feel like Tanty Kamla and the PP botch this to the nth degree. Even if it's completely false, the way they have reacted attracts as much scrutiny as the original claims.
I mean the leader of the opposition comes to Parliament with a claim so scandalous and outrageous that it almost seems laughable. I can't help but feel that a more deft politician would have been able to quickly spin the claim as a pathetic and desperate act by someone with little credibility. Instead we get an intense over reaction, repeated attempts to exonerate themselves via dubious 3rd parties and interference that seem to preempt or undermine the official enquiries.

Offline weary1969

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2015, 08:51:39 AM »
Emailgate is the gift that keep on giving. I feel like Tanty Kamla and the PP botch this to the nth degree. Even if it's completely false, the way they have reacted attracts as much scrutiny as the original claims.
I mean the leader of the opposition comes to Parliament with a claim so scandalous and outrageous that it almost seems laughable. I can't help but feel that a more deft politician would have been able to quickly spin the claim as a pathetic and desperate act by someone with little credibility. Instead we get an intense over reaction, repeated attempts to exonerate themselves via dubious 3rd parties and interference that seem to preempt or undermine the official enquiries.

I only saw Moonilal face on the front page of the express and I knew it was truth. 93% of all communication is nonverbal. It was we get ketch.
Today you're the dog, tomorrow you're the hydrant - so be good to others - it comes back!"

Offline Sando prince

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2015, 10:54:42 AM »

Ramesh: The Integrity Commission has lost the public's confidence


FORMER Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj on Friday said that the Integrity Commission could no longer expect to have the confidence of the public as a result of its actions regarding the emailgate issue. The follow is his statement -

Yesterday, I drew the attention of the national community to two matters. I pointed out that the probe by the Integrity Commission into the email gate matter was not a vindication of the Prime Minister because the Police Service and the D.P.P. were conducting an active criminal investigation.

I also pointed out that the Prime minister was interfering in a criminal investigation which was being conducted by the Police Service and which was assisted by the USA Justice Department pursuant to the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty with the USA and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

Last night the nation discovered after the resignation of the Deputy Chairman of the Integrity Commission that even the Integrity Commission had not completed its work with respect to this matter. The rush to produce a letter to the Prime Minister by the Integrity Commission is not only worrisome but it is frightening and it brings the Integrity Commission into disrepute. The effect of that is that the public can no longer have confidence in the Integrity Commission.

Today, I am left with no choice, but to call on the Police Service to immediately launch a probe in the national interest into whether the Prime Minister (acting in concert with others) has interfered in an ongoing investigation by the Integrity Commission. Further, I am calling on the police to launch an investigation into whether the Prime Minister has interfered and/or attempted to interfere in an ongoing police investigation.

These matters amount if proven to the criminal offences of conspiring to pervert the course of public justice and/or attempting to pervert the course of public justice.

I also call on His Excellency the President of our nation to dismiss the present Integrity Commission which has quite obviously at a minimum been placed under a dark cloud of suspicion

I also call on the Prime Minister to tender her resignation as Prime Minister of this country and to take immediate steps for the Parliament to be dissolved and for the General Elections to be held. These events have shown that public office was misused and abused and that the Parliament and public office were used to promote the governing party's political interests and not the public interests of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am heartened and I am sure Trinidad and Tobago is also heartened by the unbiased and methodical approach taken by the public servants in the Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in this matter. I urge these officers to continue their investigations in as thorough a fashion as is now possible in order to continue to protect and vindicate the Constitution of our country, and its laws and the public interest.

Offline Deeks

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 04:18:10 PM »
Allyuh real quiet on this one

What is there to shout about?

Offline asylumseeker

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Re: Ventour quits Integrity Commission
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2015, 09:08:02 AM »
Opinion editorial: Another look at the campaign and Integrity Commission
Selwyn Ryan (Trinidad Express)

In last week's column, I noted that certain elements were still of the view that Dr Rowley was not the right man to be Prime Minister of the country.

Ironically, there were some who knew otherwise, namely that Dr Rowley was the key to victory or defeat.

They thus mounted an expensive and vulgar campaign, using every medium- picong, social media, private cocktail gatherings, radio, television, newspaper, etc- to denigrate and take him down by any means available.

The massive PNM family day turnout which we saw Sunday last, must have made it clear to most that the finding of the polls about acceptability was not conclusive.

Some however expressed anxious concern that the Prime Minister was still too far ahead in the acceptability ratings (ten per cent).

Like many, I too was curious as to what was responsible for Kamla's meteoric rise in the polls after three years of pure and unmitigated disaster. Did Kamla import a new makeover team as Ms Thatcher, the Iron Lady, did in the UK?

Did she manage her social habits better than she did before?

Did her Ministers look so awful that she made them look good by comparison? Did the onslaught on Rowley work better than is believed?

Incidentally, what does "acceptable" measure in this charged political context?

Are Kamla's attributes transferable to the candidates in the various constituencies? We do not know since no one can declare victory "until the fat lady sings".

We need to recall that "horses are for courses".

Given the governance missteps that the Partnership has made and is leaving with us, we need a leader who is aggressive, well informed, change driven and reform minded.

There are other factors which might better explain the type of leadership posture that Kamla has assumed. Is she the beneficiary of a gender dividend? Does she have a bigger surplus stock of erotic capital than Dr Rowley?

She does have her own political charm which Jack Warner has told us is deceptive. Women have however told me that Rowley has his own charismatic charm.

Perhaps Henry's sampling is biased in favour of gender.

Abolishing The Integrity Commission?

Given the extent of the scrutiny and controversy being given to the Integrity Commission, questions must necessarily have arisen as to whether the Commission should be allowed to continue doing the work that it was established to do, or whether it should be cast into the deep beyond.

What do Messrs Ken Gordon, Zainool Hosein, Sebastian Ventour; Gladys Gafoor and others think about the commission now that they have had an opportunity to have served as a member?

What about the general public and those who have seen it at work close up or at a distance?

I suspect that many are conflicted.

Some might well believe that the commission is part of the world wide war against corruption and in pursuit of good governance should be retained.

Others believe that it is dysfunctional and that something else should be put in its place.

Why does the mechanism work in some places like Singapore and not in Trinidad & Tobago? Is it because Trinidad and Tobago is an unruly society and Singapore is a quasi-dictatorship?

My view is that both for reasons of theory and practice, the Integrity Commission should [be] sent to the scrap yard where failed institutions are left to wither away and die. It has proven that it is unworkable in highly charged and partisan environments where such bodies are used to bash rivals or political competitors.

Integrity commissions were established at a time when there was a great deal of optimism and institutional hubris in the political air. There was a vain belief that institutions would readily work if only one could find the appropriate solons to staff them.

What we have since learnt is that most institutions work better if the political culture and experience helps it to move along.

It is often said that politics has a morality of its own.

The same applies in respect of most bureaucracies. Which is more important, viable institutions or appropriate political milieu that is conducive to positive behaviour? Views differ, but the argument of this column is that while both good institutions and good political culture are important, the latter is more so.

Culture serves to define the limits of what could be done sustainably.

"The invisible hand" will not always emerge to guide the social hand.

The persistent failure of our Integrity Commission is due to many specific things. One factor is that we have a very small cadre of people whom one can appoint to investigate the kind of matters that are dumped in its lap.

The commission also spends too much time and energy scrutinising the hundreds or perhaps thousands of public officials and board members who are required to submit returns each year.

Its scope is much too wide.

Most of the persons who go through that annual routine swear that they would never do it in the future.

Few now want to become board members except they view it as being a trough for "eating ah food".

The small size of the pools from which one is required to recruit also presents other problems.

Everybody is a friend, kin, pardner, schoolmate, lodge brother, political associate, potential, or fellow party member.

Size also means that the skill capacity is limited.

A wise old man once advised that you should not establish institutions which you know you cannot manage.

The end result would be failure and cynicism.

The thing to do is to be modest and hard nosed when the urge to create a new institution emerges.


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