Terry Garib

Anna-Lisa Paul

Former People’s National Movement (PNM) 2016 Local Government Election candidate Terry Garib has been arrested and charged for selling fake immunisation cards.

Garib appeared before San Fernando Magistrate Armina Mohammed-Deonarinesingh on Thursday (August 26), charged with forgery of immunisation cards with intent to deceive.

During his appearance, the 52-year-old labourer was not called upon to plead, as the charge was laid indictably.

Garib, of Mt Stewart Village, Princes Town, is employed with the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) in his area.

He was granted $150,000 bail and ordered to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions.

A short bio from Garib’s Facebook account in 2016, when he campaigned for the ruling administration to represent Reform/Manahambre via the Princes Town Corporation, stated, “His deep involvement in community work and the recognition of his sincerity and capacity for hard works make him a very strong candidate.”

His arrest followed an investigation into a report by security officers attached to the San Fernando General Hospital, who allegedly observed Garib distributing COVID-19 immunisation cards to people who had reportedly paid him for it.

In a release yesterday, the TTPS confirmed his arrest.

“During the course of the investigation, detectives allegedly discovered that a man used a template of a genuine COVID-19 immunisation card to make the cards. He was later seen distributing the fake cards. The suspect was also reportedly found to be in possession of a stamp which bore the words “The Ministry of Health” and which originated from the Ste Madeleine Health Facility,” a TTPS release said yesterday.

PC Stefan Jagroop, of the San Fernando Police Station, laid the charge.

Garib is due to reappear on September 14.

Meanwhile, the investigation into a second such report, where false vaccine cards were created and distributed, is currently ongoing. No one has as yet been arrested and/or charged with receiving or purchasing a false vaccination card.

In July, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh disclosed that a whistle-blower had reported the matter and information relating to false vaccination cards had been forwarded to the police. He warned then that anyone found guilty of forging and receiving fake vaccination cards could be imprisoned for up to seven years based on the Forgery Act.

The Forgery Act Chapter 11:13 Section 5:3(i) and 4 states:

“(3) Any person who, with intent to defraud or deceive, commits forgery of any of the following documents is liable to imprisonment for seven years:

(i) any certificate, declaration or order under any written law relating to vaccination or to the registration of births or deaths;

(4) A person who has in his custody or possession a forged document mentioned in subsection (3), commits forgery of that document and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.”

This development later forced the Ministry of Health to review the process via which vaccination cards were being distributed.

In June, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram urged the public to ensure their vaccination cards contained an official stamp from the health facility where their vaccines were administered, after concerns surfaced that some people had been sent home with unstamped cards.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi also warned of the repercussions of forgery of such documents, as they also form part of the consideration regarding the quarantine protocols for re-entry into T&T. People attempting to re-enter the country using falsified vaccination information can face up to one year of imprisonment.