Probe the Prime Minister’s purchase.
That’s the call from the Opposition in an official complaint to the Integrity Commission against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
The United National Congress is seeking an investigation into whether Rowley breached integrity law concerning alleged non-disclosures on the purchase of a Tobago townhouse in 2019.
“We waited for the Prime Minister to explain after raising the issue on Monday, and we said if he didn’t come clean—as he hasn’t— we’d take the necessary action and we’ve done so,” UNC MP Saddam Hosein said during a media conference on Thursday.
Before Hosein’s letter of December 2 was sent, Guardian Media on Wednesday exclusively confirmed the commission intends to discus the matter at its meeting on Friday.
Hosein’s announcement followed Monday’s calls for Rowley to clear the air on allegations that Rowley did not declare to the Integrity Commission the purchase of the townhouse at Inez Developments done on February 21, 2019.
Hosein queried how Rowley paid $1.2 million for a property valued at $1.8 million—getting a $.5 million discount—and his daughter Sonel also bought a townhouse, paying less than market value, getting a discount estimated around $.4 million.
Hosein said checks were done by the UNC at the commission last week and it was allegedly revealed the Prime Minister failed to declare the property.
“One has to ask why the Prime Minister is taking so long to file his declaration for 2020, as the last one he had filed was for the year ending December 31, 2019—and the townhouse wasn’t declared on that,” he said.
“When he filed his Integrity return for 2019, our checks show he did not declare the townhouse to the commission.”
The deed for Rowley’s townhouse was done by Colvin Blaize, from EE Blaize and Company of Scott-Bushe Street, Port-of-Spain.
The deed for Sonel Rowley’s townhouse was done by Sharon Clarke-Rowley, of MG Daly and Partners, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain
Hosein said Rowley’s responses on the issue so far were flippant. He said his letter to the commission seeks urgent replies on whether there were breaches of the Integrity in Public Life by the PM, on non-disclosure of the purchase of the townhouse and non-disclosure of a gift/benefit regarding the purchase.
He said the Integrity Act states that when a person fails to provide details, they commit a criminal offence. According to the act, if a person gets a gift exceeding $5,000 in value, they must declare it and state the nature, source and circumstances under which it was given or accepted.
Hosein said it appeared Rowley was the beneficiary of a discount of half a million. He claimed it was strange the three-bedroom townhouse was sold for $1.2 million when the market value was $ 1.68 million and there was a difference of half a million in discount.
“In his response, the PM is trying to say it’s a private transaction between him and investments. But because he is Prime Minister, he is not a private citizen and he falls under the ambit of the Integrity in Public Life Act, Section 11 of the Act says a person in public life must file their assets, income and liability with the commission. So if anyone has such property, they must declare the purchase,” he said.
Hosein added: “He’s not above the law. The Prime Minister has a lot of questions to answer to account on transparency on this.
“If you felt you could have gotten away without giving answers—like on the collapse of the last Police Service Commission- you’re wrong, Prime Minister, you have to answer, as this matter deals with alleged breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act.”
Hosein said the same principle applied in this matter as when former prime minister Basdeo Panday was charged with failing to declare his London bank account.