With just three weeks to go to the August 10 general election, reports emerged yesterday that promised corruption probes into Lifesport and the Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD) had now reached the point where the police were about to obtain warrants to continue searches which started a while ago.
Reports in both this newspaper and another newspaper yesterday confirmed that former government ministers and officials are at the centre of the probe in which local officers of the Anti Corruption Investigative Bureau (ACIB) were being assisted in the investigation by a team of forensic experts from the United Kingdom.
Corruption and misappropriation of funds impact the wider society. People who should by right benefit from monies allocated via ministries and agencies are not just short-changed but cheated when officials engage in corrupt activities and misappropriation of funds for the benefit of those outside of whom it was intended.
It is alleged that of the near $350M allocated to Lifesport in the period 2012 to 2014, a significant portion of those funds was alleged to have been misappropriated by high ranking public officials.
A status report, reportedly compiled by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service also raises questions about the misappropriation of almost $550M in funds from the EMBD in the six week period before the general election of September 2015.
That plan, according to the TTPS report, involved a fraudulent scheme aided and abetted by a former senior government official who facilitated the inflation of tenders by friends and acquaintances for road contracts.
“By the time the tender had come around the EMBD’s estimates for the cost of the roads had been arbitrarily inflated to $416,340,445” by the official whose name is contained in the report.
These two reports taken together cast a significant cloud under the administration of former government officials in the Peoples’ Partnership government in 2015. One can only hope that these self-same officials will not be facing the electorate in 2020.
While it is true that persons are innocent until proven guilty, it will be a travesty of justice and an insult to the national population if in fact, persons who may have allegedly been involved in corrupt practices or who may have aided and abetted corrupt practices in the past, would be so bold as to want the population to vote for them again.
This is not to paint the entire administration of 2015 with the brush of corruption and mismanagement, but if one were to sift through the details one could point to who those officials were at both Lifesport and the EMBD.
If in fact any of those involved will be facing the electorate again it is too late to change since nomination day has come and gone.
It is the population that bears the brunt of mismanagement, corruption and misappropriation of funds. This crisis in governance spans many administrations and none is immune from allegations of this nature. At the end of the day, it is up to those who have the power to investigate and those in the legal fraternity to ensure that justice is not only seen to be served but is served for the benefit of the greater good.