Although he has been renting three properties to the State for the past five years, People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate for Toco/Sangre Grande Roger Monroe is promising to sever all business transactions as a landlord once he is successful in the August 10 general election.
Monroe, 33, gave the commitment yesterday during an interview with Guardian Media at his Sangre Grande office, in response to an article in last Friday’s Trinidad Guardian, where family members of Percy Thomas called on the police to reopen a fraud investigation into Monroe for allegedly using an expired power of attorney to withdraw $27,000 from Thomas’ account two days after he (Thomas) died from cancer on February 7, 2015.
Thomas was Monroe’s grandfather.
Before Thomas’ passing, Monroe said his grandfather put five of his Sangre Grande properties valued at $6 million in his name.
He said his grandfather’s watchwords were, “He that labour shall hold the reigns of power. I was the one that laboured. I was very close to my grandfather.”
Of the five properties acquired, Monroe has been renting three buildings to the State since 2015 – two of which are the Immigration Office and Warden’s office in Sangre Grande.
Monroe said Thomas had ten children some of whom were recipients of properties before and after his death.
“Yes, a will was made. They are aware of the will. They know what the will contains. However, they want me to do otherwise,” Monroe said.
Maintaining he has done no wrong and his hands are clean, Monroe refused to divulge the contents of the will which he said would be revealed after elections by his attorney.
Monroe claimed he received his probate documents in June 2018.
“But because they were not comfortable with what they got they refused to accept it and decided to give me a challenge for what was given to me. I sent a four-page proposal offering sums of monies…property to these persons and they refused.”
Family members, Monroe said, have been challenging him for the properties bequeathed to him.
In 1998, Monroe started living with Thomas whom he described as a taskmaster and astute businessman.
However, in 2013 Monroe said Thomas became his legal guardian.
Monroe said his grandfather gave him certain instructions before his death which he carried out.
One instruction was to go to the bank after his death and withdraw $27,000 from his account for burial arrangements.
“I had been guided by this man all my life so I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Months after the funeral, Monroe said he was informed by his attorney that he had made a mistake by withdrawing the money.
“They (relatives) themselves did not even know that a power of attorney dies when somebody dies. They settled that issue where I repaid the money.”
Monroe insisted that he did not rob his family.
He said during his grandfather’s illness he paid all his medical bills which amounted to over $200,000.
Monroe said the attack by the relatives in the height of the election was “well-orchestrated. It is politically motivated. It is rumoured that persons were paid to carry about in this manner. They just wanted to be disruptive. It’s just a matter of trying to destroy Roger Monroe by any means necessary …to set up lies and make false allegations and destroy him.”
Questioned if he used any of the rent money he received from the State in the last five years to fund his election campaign, Monroe said he is a businessman.
“I have other means of income.”
He refused to divulge how much rent he collects monthly from the State for the three properties he has been renting since 2015.
If elected an MP, Monroe said the rental of his properties would not be a conflict of interest with the PNM Government.
“No, it would not be a conflict of interest because my attorney has already given instructions to make arrangements as to what would be done with the properties. It would be handed over. And I would no longer have any dealings with it.”
Confident of victory, Monroe said he felt relieved that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley stood in his defence last Friday about the war over the properties.
“The Prime Minister knew that I am in the clear. I do everything above board. And I am an upstanding citizen.”
Monroe insisted that he “has nothing to hide. I have the documented facts. I am the truth and the light.”
Meanwhile, in a telephone interview yesterday, one of Thomas’ five sons Darren Thomas told Guardian Media that Monroe was shifting the whole “goal post and we are not on that.”
Thomas who spoke on behalf of family members insisted that the issue with Monroe has nothing to do with politics.
“What we are trying to do is to get the police to investigate this power of attorney. We are not trying to draw into all of that legalities with the land and the will and the deed. We are trying to draw to the attention of Mr Gary Griffith and the Fraud Squad to do a proper investigation,” Thomas said.