Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and legal adviser to the T&T Police Service Christian Chandler yesterday the evidence they had so far compiled in the Lifesport and the Estate Management and Development Co Ltd probes amid reports they had not uncovered enough to press charges in relation to those cases. They said the evidence they have gathered thus far is not weak.
A media report over the weekend gave details from a June letter which suggested the police investigations had only uncovered “circumstantial evidence” despite contracting United Kingdom firm Edmonds Marshall Mahon to provide support and training to the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bureau (ACIB).
While they addressed the report yesterday during a press conference at Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain, Griffith and Chandler expressed concerns about the information in the media, noting it appeared to emanate from a leak in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“I find it is very interesting that we are in a position where external agencies (sends information) and again it gets in the hands of the media, because this is not the first time. The DPP and I, we have a very good rapport and I am concerned,” Griffith said.
Chandler also defended the investigation, stating progress had been made since the letter was issued to the TTPS via the Office of the DPP.
“These matters were apparently shelved and nothing was done with it. For years they just sat there and with the assistance of EMM and a team of officers from the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the matters are now significantly advanced,” Chandler said.
“To that end in today’s media, for instance, the Express we see only circumstantial kickback evidence. And they allude to a particular letter sent from Edmonds Marshall Mahon to Ed Jenkins Queen’s Counsel. So it is curious how every time something of a sensitive nature that is sent to the DPP’s office it somehow ends up in the Express, I find that very curious.”
He added, “The fact of the matter is that was in June, that they were referring to, from June to now investigations have been conducting search warrants executed witness statements recorded and information received, so it is not just circumstantial evidence. It is more than that.”
Griffith also responded to criticism of the use of the UK firm’s expertise in the matter, noting that foreign aid in auditing was not uncommon.
“Now it seems amazing to me that persons are concerned that the TTPS has hired external support. Well, the DPP’s office hires external support. We are aware of Mr Linquist and others involved in forensic auditing that come here,” he said.
“This country cannot spend hundreds of millions on investigations into CLICO, Lifesport and EMBD and nothing comes about. We need to ensure closure, one way or the other. We need to bring them to a close.”
Griffith also refuted claims by some political entities that the sudden interest in these cases were politically motivated, as he reaffirmed that the TTPS was an independent entity.
On July 19, a Sunday Guardian report revealed that arrests were imminent in the $549 million EMBD case, with a prominent politician reportedly closely linked to the matter.