Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP is calling on the Prime Minister to stop dithering on the serious allegations of fraud at Petrotrin and take immediate action.
The Opposition Leader issued the following statement:
In responding to questions posed by reporters at this week’s Post-Cabinet media briefing, Dr Keith Rowley once again failed to take decisive action on this serious matter, choosing instead to cast aspersions on the Opposition, in an attempt to deflect from the gravity of the allegations.
He cannot simply shrug off the audit findings, which reveal that almost $100 Million was stolen from our nation at a time when we are having difficulty making ends meet, if reports from the Government are to believed.
As I have stated previously, this matter reaches far beyond Petrotrin and is serious enough to warrant the attention of the DPP, Commissioner of Police and Integrity Commission.
Further, the Prime Minister’s admission that he spoke to his “good friend”, Nazim Baksh, who runs the company that reportedly defrauded Petrotrin through the submission of false reports and receipt of more than TT$80 Million for oil it did not produce, is cause for alarm.
Rowley said he spoke with Mr. Baksh after the findings of the report were publicized, and we must ask: how deep is the Prime Minister’s involvement in this matter? By speaking with the person who runs the company accused of a crime, whose interest is Rowley seeking? Has he also sought out Mr. Deokiesingh, the Petrotrin employee named in the audit report, and who was a PNM candidate in the 2015 General Election campaign?
As Prime Minister, Rowley’s sole interest should be in seeking the national interest, and ensuring that the $100 million stolen from the country is recovered, and those found to have been engaged in wrongdoing held accountable.
Rowley must tell the country whether A and V Oil and Gas Limited’s contract with Petrotrin remains in effect. This contract must be terminated immediately and Petrotrin must report whether it has acted upon the recommendations and findings of the audit report.
As with the Tobago ferry fiasco, Keith Rowley has once again failed to take any action against his Minister of Energy, and PNM Chairman, Franklin Khan. Like his colleague Rohan Sinanan, who presided over the mishandling of the procurement of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 vessels, Khan has been spared, and remains in his position.
It is clear that this Rowley-led Government is not concerned with transparency, accountability and good governance.
We maintain our call on the Government to take immediate steps to follow the money, freeze assets and ensure that the country recovers what has been taken from it.