3366801
Opposition Senator Wade Mark speaks during the UNC’s virtual press conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Opposition Senator Wade Mark is calling on President Paula-Mae Weekes to immediately withdraw three of the five Police Service Commission (PSC) nominees over what he alleged as a conflict of interest and apparent bias with the selection process.

Mark made the call for Weekes to reconsider the nominations of Maxine Attong, Ian Ramdhanie and Maxine King three days before Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley pilots the debate to approve the five-member Commission in Parliament.

The two other nominees are attorney Rajiv Persad and retired judge Judith Jones.

The previous commission collapsed on September 25.

Speaking at a United National Congress press conference yesterday, Mark told reporters that some of the nominees need to come clean in the interest of the public.

“Some of these persons that have been nominated may have or may possess or maybe very distinguished sons and daughters of the soil. We have no personal grievances with anyone who have been nominated.”

However, he said there were potential areas of conflict that needed answers.

He called on the President “to clear the air” on three nominees, stating there should be no contamination, subversion or interference with the selection process.

“So the persons who are selected have to be like Caesar’s wife. They have to beyond reproach. I would have imagined that proper due diligence would have been done by the Office of the President.”

The first nominee Mark identified was Ramdhanie who he claimed works for the Caribbean Institute of Security and Public Safety (CISPS).

Mark said a check with the Register General’s Department in August showed that CISPS is owned by Amalgamated Security Services Ltd which has been providing transport of prison officers to and from courts for over a decade.

While Mark said the UNC has nothing against the owners of Amalgamated Security that provides a service and operates a business.

However, he pointed out:

“But because the company is in conflict with this particular responsibility through this employee (Ramdhanie) that has now been nominated by her Excellency to sit on a Police Service Commission to select, recruit, recommend a police commissioner and a deputy police commissioner/s… that constitutes a potential conflict of interest.”

Mark said there is a possibility of apparent bias in this matter.

“There is need for Her Excellency to reconsider this nomination” and find a nominee.

The second nominee Mark named was Attong who he said: “is the president” of the Human Resources Management Association of T&T (HRMATT) up to 2018/2019.

Calling on Attong to say if she is still president of the association and “we would also like her to clear the air on whether she has been using that office to solicit contracts not only for HRMATT but for her own firm that is engaged in the provision of professional managerial leadership services.”

Attong is an accountant.

Mark asked if the firm Attong represents “have contracts with the T&T Government.”

Mark showed a photograph of Attong posing with former labour minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus in 2018 “where HRMATT of whom this lady is the president…and we would like to know whether as the story goes her responsibility in 2018 was to solicit contracts and work from the Ministry of Labour for HRMATT and by extension her own private company.”

He said Attong needs to come clean.

The third nominee Mark pointed out was King who works for a wealth management company named Firstline Securities Ltd.

A perusal of the company’s registry found a mortgage dated November 2, 2017 in the name of Inez Investment Ltd (IIL) as a borrower.

Mark said he understands that IIL is owned by a prominent Tobago family which is closely associated with Rowley.

He called on Rowley to confirm or deny this.

Contacted yesterday, Cheryl Lala, communication adviser to the President was asked if the nominees had declared their interests to the President.

Lala offered no comment.

A few hours later Lala sent a WhatsApp message which stated “as regards to your earlier query, the Office of the President awaits the decision of Parliament.”

Calls to Leader of Government Business Camille Robsinson-Regis went unanswered while a WhatsApp message was also not read up to late yesterday.

Repeated calls to Ramdhanie’s cellphone also went unanswered.