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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
GAIL ALEXANDER

The Integrity Commission will tomorrow discuss UNC MP Saddam Hosein’s allegation that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley allegedly failed to file a declaration with the Integrity Commission on the purchase of a Tobago townhouse in 2019.

This was confirmed by the commission yesterday. The T&T Guardian was informed that the matter had “definitely” been added to the commission’s agenda for its normal meeting tomorrow. However, the matter hadn’t been before the commission, it was confirmed.

Hosein spoke on the issue at Monday’s UNC Virtual Forum. He detailed the “files” which the UNC had on Rowley, Tobago businessman Allan Warner and others.

Hosein had called on Rowley to clear the air on allegations that the PM didn’t declare the alleged purchase of a townhouse from Inez Developments on Shirvan Road, Tobago, in 2019. He said as of last week, checks by the UNC revealed the PM failed to declare he bought the property, which was in violation of the law. Hosein cited a deed of February 21, 2019 and also alleged that from deeds in the UNC’s possession, Rowley “got a discount” of .$5 million, paying $1.2 million. He claimed other people bought units for between $1.6m and $1.8m.

He cited Section 27 of the Integrity in Public Life Act which says, “Where a personal benefit exceeds $5,000 in value, the person in public life shall file his declaration indicating the nature of the gift, source and circumstances under which it was given or accepted.”  Hosein called for urgent action by the Integrity Commission.

The T&T Guardian sent queries via What’s App to Rowley on if he filed the declaration for the property, if he bought it and if the declaration wasn’t filed, why not and when it will be filed.

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Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein. OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

On Hosein’s claims, Rowley responded, “I will ignore that runt until he slanders me. Then I will sue him. Until then, I will ask you to lend him a dictionary so that he can learn the difference between PNM and UNC. PNM – we purchase. UNC – they steal. In one case, taxpayers’ money through kickbacks from contracts is involved. In the other, the money comes from personal accounts. He is having difficulty with that. Poor fellow.”

Rowley also told other media houses he didn’t respond to UNC “desperation.” He warned that if they reached the threshold of slander, he wouldn’t hesitate to sue the offender. He said they were seeking company to “match the record of corruption with contractors and government money … so now they’re ruling on legitimate private transactions … they’re welcome to waste their time because unlike them, I spend my money on what I purchase and don’t need their permission.’’

 In a statement last evening in response to Rowley’s claims, Hosein said, “Keith Rowley’s flippant answer to the media is unacceptable. He has yet to respond to whether or not he declared the townhouse to the Integrity Commission and he failed to explain the circumstances surrounding a half of million-dollar discount of the townhouse.”

He added, “The Prime Minister must explain why only the Rowleys were lucky enough to purchase Inez Gate townhouses at $1.2 million when others paid $1.6 million and upwards for theirs. These units were advertised for sale of $1.75 million on Inez Investment’s website.”

Hosein claimed the matters fall not only under the Integrity Commission’s remit “but also fall under the Financial Intelligence Unit, in relation to compliance with anti-money laundering regulations and suspicious transactions.”

“These are matters that warrant full comprehensive response…Prime Minister come clean with the population, or we’ll take the necessary action,’’ Hosein added.