ILP: Was Lifesport audit deliberately sabotaged?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 11:15

Political leader of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Rekha Ramjit says no one has been vindicated by the Lifesport ruling in court on Monday.

The ILP is calling for further criminal investigations to determine whether anyone sabotaged the Central Audit Committee's audit.

The following is the full statement by the ILP leader.

"Yesterday’s ruling by High Court judge Justice Mira Dean Armourer in the judicial review matter regarding the audit of the LifeSport Programme by the Central Audit Committee of the Ministry of Finance does not exonerate anyone with respect to allegations of wrongdoing. It also does not negate or prevent the initiation or continuation of criminal investigations by the police into this matter. It also does not preclude a fresh audit being conducted provided all the necessary procedures are adhered to.

Justice Dean Amrourer’s judgement pertains only to the procedure followed by the Central Audit Committee insofar as the Committee did not interview certain persons whom it ought to have interviewed. The judgement, however, does not make any pronouncement with respect to the facts and actual evidence concerning how the $400 million of taxpayers’ money appropriated to the programme was spent.

What is interesting is that former Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Political Leader, Jack Warner, then Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West, in the Guardian newspaper of August 18, 2014 – under the headline: ‘Warner: LifeSport Audit a Sham’ - exposed the fact that persons who ought to have been interviewed were not being interviewed, and hence the audit was being pursued in a flawed manner. This was long before the audit exercise was concluded. The ILP concurs with Mr Warner’s insinuation in 2014 that this appears to be no mere coincidence.

Further, Mr Warner’s comments that it is not just officials of the Ministry of Sport who should be probed, but a wide net of other government officials as well, provides motive for a possible cover-up by government agencies and departments under the influence of the former Administration.

This is of particular relevance since the LifeSport Programme was commenced under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar People’s Partnership (PP) Administration and it was under this same regime that the Central Audit Committee investigation was conducted. The suspicion now prevails that this audit was a case of the PP investigating itself since the Central Audit Committee is a department in the Ministry of Finance. While the Central Audit Committee is supposed to conduct its affairs in a professional and independent manner, the widespread public perception is now that the Committee has been compromised by politics and politicians. Thus, public confidence in the Central Audit Committee has been severely – if not completely - eroded.

Section 90 (3) of the Constitution and the Police Service Act empower the Director of Public Prosecution and the Commissioner of Police respectively to investigate and prosecute offences. In this regard and given the large volume of evidence in the public domain, the ILP calls on all relevant office holders and institutions that have the authority and responsibility to investigate such matters to do their jobs and promptly ensure that proper investigations are initiated into the circumstances surrounding the expenditure of $400 million in State funds through the LifeSport Programme. Such proper investigations must be done by independent and competent professionals with the reputation and proficiency like Forensic Investigator Bob Lindquist.

The ILP believes further that a criminal investigation should be launched to determine whether anyone, singularly or conspiring with others, deliberately sabotaged the Central Audit Committee’s audit exercise and report, and anyone found to have acted in such a manner should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The nonsense that passes for governance in this country has to stop and the ILP will not stay silent on this."