UNC deputy leader, Dr. Roodal Moonilal, has called for President Paula-Mae Weekes to officially tell the country whether she was involved in the alleged agreement to provide a Presidential pardon to Vincent Nelson, similar to her alleged involvement in the illegal withdrawal of the Merit List.
Vincent Nelson’s statement of claim filed in the court on 27 June 2022 has been unsealed and reported in the Sunday Express on 16 October 2022 (“Nelson’s $100m claim unsealed …Alleges Al-Rawi promised him a presidential pardon”, p. 4).
The Presidential pardon for Nelson was deemed to be necessary because he was subject of a criminal investigation under the UK Bribery Act. Nelson had been informed about this in writing on 5 October 2018, by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
After discussions with then Attorney-General, Faris Al-Rawi, Nelson claims that in 2019 Al-Rawi and the DPP worked together to have the NCA cede criminal investigation and prosecution, so that Nelson could be tried in Trinidad and Tobago instead.
This would allow Nelson to avoid prosecution and imprisonment in the UK.
The plan was to try Nelson in Trinidad and Tobago, but then have him pardoned by President Paula-Mae Weekes, and his fines paid for by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (i.e., by taxpayers).
Nelson has sworn that his attorney (Roger Kawalsingh), via text on June 18, 2019, confirmed that Al-Rawi indicated that the Government of T&T had agreed on granting the pardon, that this would be would be fast-tracked to have President Paula Mae-Weekes provide this within one month of Nelson being sentenced, and that Al-Rawi (i.e., the taxpayers) would pay Nelson full monetary compensation (including for all fines incurred from prosecution).
Nelson also reportedly swore that he received a text from his attorney on 25 January 2020 confirming that Al-Rawi indicated he had the support of other members of the “Pardon Committee” to have Nelson pardoned by President Paula Mae-Weekes within a month of sentencing, even if the DPP did not agree. The other members of the Mercy Committee include the National Security Minister and the Attorney-General, who chairs the Committee.
This agreement to pardon Nelson appears to be a conspiracy by Faris Al-Rawi and Vincent Nelson — along with their attorneys and the Minister of National Security — to have Nelson escape prosecution and imprisonment for crimes committed under UK law.
In all of this, the role of President Paula-Mae Weekes must be brought into question.
Since the President must sign off on all Presidential pardons, the Opposition United National Congress is asking the President whether Her Excellency had any knowledge of or agreed to this planned pardon of Vincent Nelson.
At the Opposition Press Conference on 6 November 2022, UNC Deputy Leader Dr. Roodal Moonilal stated, “Today I call now on the President’s Office, indicate whether or not Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes was involved in this matter, whether the President had knowledge that a pardon had already been discussed and agreed upon to come to her to sign off, …whether or not the President Office was involved in this, like the Merit List.”
“This is akin to a controversy, a scandal beyond words, that the President’s Office could have been involved in a conspiracy to induce a witness in a criminal matter by way of granting a Presidential pardon.”
“I am hoping the President could say, ‘I know nothing of that. It never came to my attention. I don’t know who is that.’ I’m hoping so. Otherwise it speaks to the undermining of one of the highest offices in the land.”
The Opposition United National Congress is requesting that President Paula-Mae Weekes officially inform the country whether she was involved in the alleged agreement to grant a Presidential pardon to Vincent Nelson.
Dr. Kirk Meighoo
Public Relations Officer