We hold our Officials in public office to high standards. They are considered our local celebrities even though their claim to fame is of a political nature. Although we may demand that our politicians maintain a spotless image, they are humans – like the rest of us – who make mistakes. But unlike citizens who can hide behind their anonymity, politicians are scrutinized by a curious public, and must answer for their crimes and misdemeanors when they arise.
Since the arrest and subsequent charges laid against former Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald, we at Izzso News decided to review our political history and identify other Officials who have faced allegations in public office.
Do you remember where you were when you heard that a Government official had been accused? Or worse, charged and may face jail time? Read below as we jog your memory of Public Officials who faced allegations.
Basdeo “Silver Fox” Panday- UNC (Opposition Member and Leader of the Opposition)
In September 2002, Basdeo Panday (as an Opposition Member) was charged with failing to declare the details of a London bank account during the years 1997, 1998 and 1999. In May 2005, Panday, was arrested for bribery. He refused bail and remained in prison for eight days. In April 2006 (as Leader of the Opposition) Panday was found guilty of these charges and sentenced to two years with hard labour; he was also required to pay a TT$20,000 fine. His appointment was revoked following his conviction. In 2007, the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and in 2012 he was acquitted of all charges
Franklin Khan- PNM (MP for Ortoire/Mayaro and Minister of Works and Transport)
In November 2005, Franklin Khan was indicted on bribery charges. He was the first Government Minister to be indicted while the party, under which he served, led the Government. He subsequently resigned following the accusation. The charges were dropped after five years.
Collin Partap- UNC (MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla and Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security
In July 2013, Partap was found guilty of refusing to take a breathalyzer test outside a club on Keate Street in Port-of-Spain. He was fired by then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar from his ministerial post but retained his role as MP. In May 2019, he lost his case against the charge of failing to submit himself for the sobriety test in 2012.
Anand Ramlogan- UNC (Former Attorney General)
In February 2015, Anand Ramlogan faced allegations of attempting to bribe a witness. Former Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West claimed that Ramlogan asked him to withhold a witness statement in the Section 34 matter. At the time, Rowley and Ramlogan were locked in a defamation lawsuit, and the statement would have worked in Rowley’s favour. Ramlogan was asked to resign following the allegations and subsequently stepped down. In September 2017, he was arrested and charged with misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice. He was granted bail of TT$750,000. In 2019, Ramlogan was arrested and charged with conspiring to engage in money laundering, corruption and misbehaviour in public office. He was granted bail of TT$1.2 million.
Dr. Lester Henry- PNM (Senator)
In March 2018, Dr. Lester Henry was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). He was given a conditional discharge when he appeared before a Magistrate for sentencing. He continued to serve as a Senator following his misdemeanor.
Marlene McDonald- PNM (MP for Port-of-Spain South and Minister of Public Administration)
In August 2019, Marlene McDonald was charged with seven offences: two for conspiracy to defraud, four for alleged misbehaviour in public office and one for money laundering. She was sentenced and granted bail in absentia (she did not appear in court) of TT$2 million. Her appointment as Public Administration Minister was revoked following her arrest. This was not the first time McDonald stood accused of misbehaviour in public office. In December 2013, she was exonerated of corruption charges following an investigation in 2008 and 2009. Reports indicate that she funneled funds to her common-law husband through the Calabar Foundation. She was exonerated, again, in 2016 of these charges following an investigation by the Integrity Commission.
Garvin Simonette- PNM (Senator)
In August 2019, Garvin Simonette tendered his resignation after it was discovered that he was charged for a DUI in the US. He was tipped to replace Marlene McDonald as Public Administration Minister, but the swearing-in ceremony was cancelled.
Jack Warner- UNCA (Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West, Chairman of the UNC, and Minister of National Security)
In May 2011, Jack Warner was implicated for fraudulent activities in his management, along with Chuck Blazer, of CONCACAF. He resigned as Chairman of the UNC and Minister of National Security in April 2013. He then formed his own party, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), and served as MP for Chaguanas West for two years until 2015.
Chandresh Sharma- UNCA (MP for Fyzabad and Minister of Tourism)
In March 2014, an investigation was launched into Chandresh Sharma after he was accused of assaulting his former partner, Sacha Singh. Sharma resigned while the investigations were underway. He was subsequently cleared of any criminal misconduct.
Anil Roberts- COP (Member for D’Abadie/O’Meara and Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs)
In May 2014, Anil Roberts faced allegations of corruption surrounding the controversial LifeSport programme. During an audit, the programme was said to include alleged fraud, theft, questionable payment and other criminal activities. Roberts claimed that then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked for his resignation, and he tendered it. During his tenure as Sports Minister he also came under fire after a video surfaced of what appeared to be Roberts preparing marijuana, in a hotel room. He was subsequently exonerated of the corruption charges. He continued to serve as MP for the area for one year.
Gerald Ramdeen- UNC (Opposition Senator)
In May 2019, Gerald Ramdeen surrendered himself to police to face charges of conspiring – along with Anand Ramlogan – to engage in money laundering, corruption and misbehaviour in public office. He resigned following the charges.
Dr. Keith Rowley- PNM (MP for Diego Martin West and Minister of Trade and Industry)
In April 2008, then Prime Minister Patrick Manning fired Dr. Keith Rowley for what he described as ‘hooligan behaviour’ during a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of cabinet. Rowley was fired from his Ministerial post but remained a Government member.
Mary King-COP (Senator and Minister of Planning, Economic and Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs)
In April 2011, Mary King was accused of engaging in a conflict of interest, when she awarded a TT$100,000 contract to Ixanos Limited, a company which she jointly owned with her husband. The contract was to develop a website for the Planning Ministry for which she was the current Minister. She was fired by then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Therese Baptiste-Cornelius- UNC (Minister of Health)
In July 2011, during a Cabinet reshuffle, Therese Baptiste-Cornelius’ position as Minister of Health was revoked. She was given the position of Ambassador designate to Brussels, Belgium, and Permanent Representative to the UN. In August 2012 she was fired from the post following controversial statements she made at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Geneva.
Verna St. Rose Greaves- UNC (Senator and Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development)
Verna St. Rose Greaves has said that she was not given a reason for her firing. During a cabinet reshuffle in June 2012, the former Minister’s appointment was revoked and instead given to Marlene Coudray. One school of thought is that St. Rose Greaves was dismissed for her views on abortion and gay marriage, and her attempt to sway the Government to her way of thinking. On the other hand, she may have been demoted because of a decision to admit Cheryl Miller, an employee of the Ministry of Gender, to St. Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital against her will. St. Rose Greaves was the Minister at the time Miller was committed.
Herbert Volney- UNC (MP for ST. Joseph and Minister of Justice)
In September 2012, Herbert Volney was accused of misrepresenting the opinions of the Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions on the early proclamation of Section 34. He was fired by then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. He retained his position as MP for one year.
Gary Griffith- UNC (Minister of National Security)
In February 2015, Gary Griffith faced allegations of witness-tampering following an investigation. His appointment as Security Minister was revoked.
Glen Ramadharsingh- UNCA (MP for Caroni Central and Minister of the People and Social Development)
In March 2016, Dr. Glen Ramadharsingh faced allegations of disorderly conduct. He was accused of inappropriately touching a flight attendant when he reached for her ID badge that was pinned to her blouse during a flight from Tobago. Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired him from his post as Minister, but allowed him to retain his post as MP. In the same month, the Minister was accused of forcing a woman to indulge in sexual favours. In return, it is alleged, he agreed to facilitate the speedy acquisition of a new house for the victim.
Darryl Smith- PNM (MP for Diego Martin Central and Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs)
In April 2018, Darryl Smith was accused of wrongful dismissal and subsequent payment of compensation to Ms Carrie-Ann Moreau, his former Secretary at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs. He is reported to have paid TT$150,000 in the Industrial Court matter. He was first reassigned to Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development but was fired by Prime Minister Keith Rowley shortly thereafter. He is still the MP for Diego Martin Central.
Hulsie Bhaggan- UNC (MP for Chaguanas)
In 1993 while serving as the MP for Chaguanas, Hulsie Bhaggan blocked the Uriah Butler Highway as a sign of protest. She was arrested and spent seven days in jail in solitary confinement. In 1994 she was expelled from the UNC party- a political party that she founded along with Basdeo Panday and others.
Dhanraj “The Sheriff” Singh- UNC- MP for Pointe-a-Pierre and Minister of Local Government
There is a reason Dhanraj Singh was known as ‘The Sheriff’; not only did he verbally threaten his victims, but he wielded his gun while doing so. In April 1997, while serving as MP and Minister under the UNC Government, he was charged with assaulting a retired Assistant Police Commissioner. His troubles continued in February 2001 when he was formally charged with the murder of Hansraj Sumairsingh. Prior to this, he had been charged with 27 counts of fraud arising from the operations of the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) and was out on TT$150,000 bail. His appointment had been revoked when allegations of the murder charge surfaced. He spent two years at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca between February 2001 and October 2003.
Did you remember all of them? Who did we forget?
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