Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2017 Contents news A5
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 guardian.co.tt
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Am I facing criminal probe?
JENSEN LA VENDE
Sea Lots businessman Cedric
"Burkie" Burke has written to
acting Police Commissioner Ste-
phen Williams, asking him to say
whether he is being investigated
for any criminal activities.
Burke, through attorneys Celeste St
Louis and Richard Clarke-Wills, wrote
a two-page letter to Williams seeking
to clear his name amidst suggestions
his attending MP Marlene McDonald's
swearing-in led to her firing by Prime
Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on Sunday.
Burke is currently suing the State
for wrongful arrest and prosecution,
after he was released two months af-
ter being detained in the 2011 state of
emergency under allegations he was
a gang leader. That matter comes up
for hearing later this month.
In the letter, Burke argues he has no
pending criminal matters or convic-
tions in any jurisdiction.
"Accordingly, it is paramount that
any and all engagement of interest
in our client by your good selves be
declared, clarified and confirmed so
as to prevent any further unfounded
blemishes on his character, reputation
and esteem and to avoid any further
adverse impact on the family relations
and business interests of our client,
who remains a man of good character,"
the letter stated.
The letter claimed Burke's children,
two of whom represented the coun-
try in gymnastics, are negatively im-
pacted by the insinuations that their
father is criminally connected. In the
letter, Burke also said he is willing to
co-operate with police in their inves-
Burke is also considering suing
Rowley for defamation of character,
after Rowley made statements allud-
ing to him being involved in criminal
During a press conference on Mon-
day, Rowley admitted that McDon-
ald's association with Burke at her
swearing-in ceremony is why she was
removed as Public Utilities Minister.
On why McDonald's affiliation with
Burke was such an issue, Rowley said,
"Let me spell it out: it's very easy for
one to say and to remember that on
the issue of responding to crime and
criminality in T&T, there's a view in
many quarters that the Government's
inability---other governments also---
to properly respond to the threat of
criminality is because of a closeness
and an association between govern-
ment personnel and people engaged
in criminal conduct."
He added: "When I speak or take
action on this matter, suffice to say I
speak as Prime Minister and chairman
of the National Security Council---
who more than likely will have a bit
more information than anyone else.
And the decisions I make are decisions
made against that background."
But even while, Burke was call-
ing on the police to clear his name,
fellow Sea Lots resident and his
neighbour Kenroy Dopwell, who'd
berated the PM and Government for
firing McDonald, said he was over
his anger on it and was moving on.
Dopwell had been at McDonald's
swearing-in function last Friday
with Burke and others. Dopwell said
he was a PNM mobiliser and was so
angry she was fired that he'd said
he wanted her to challenge Rowley
for the PNM leadership nexrt year,
that'd he'd have exchanged PNM
red for UNC yellow, or supported
McDonald forming her own party.
But after Rowley explained why he'd
reappointed McDonald and why he
fired her, Dopwell said yesterday,
"The boss talk. I have nothing further
to say. We have to pick up the pieces
and move on - I remain a People's
National Movement supporter and
I continue supporting Marlene also.
...admits he got HDC contract under PNM
Sea Lots community leader
Cedric "Burkie" Burke yesterday
admitted his company - Burke
and Company Ltd - has obtained
a Housing Development Corpora-
tion (HDC) contract at Woodstar
Avenue, Bon Air South, under the
People's National Movement Gov-
Burke, who was detained in the 2011
state of emergency, charged as being
a gang leader and later freed, said he
also received several contracts under
the then People's Partnership regime.
"I have never gotten a contract from
anybody. I am part of a company. I have
two companies ... my companies tender
for contracts under all administrations.
It does not matter under PNM or who.
I work with each and any government
that is there. Some contracts we get,
some we don't," said Burke, whose
uninvited attendance to Marlene Mc-
Donald's swearing-in at President's
House last week ultimately led to her
latest firing by Prime Minister Dr Keith
Rowley on Sunday.
Burke said he has been operating his
businesses legitimately for the past ten
years and pays taxes, but could not
say how many contracts he had been
awarded over the years.
"No I can't because I did a lot of
work. We not only going to Manning
and Rowley administration. I did a lot
of work under the PP Government in
its five years as well."
Asked what were some of the con-
tracts he was awarded, Burke said to
reveal this was not necessary.
"I complete them. I being paid for
them, so I don't think that is part of
anything. When the time comes that
will be easy to clarify."
He said to tender for a contract his
companies had to go through certain
"There are certain documents you
have to submit, so don't think for a
moment that you could get a contract
without submitting these things."
Asked if Burke and Company Ltd
was awarded an HDC contract for the
East-based housing project, which is
currently under construction, Burke
said "yes." He said his company was
one of several contractors involved in
the project, but did not specify exactly
what were their job specifications and
the payment attached.
Last September, Housing Minister
Randall Mitchell turned the sod for
construction of 60 town houses on
five parcels of land in Arouca, which
was projected to cost $48 million. At
that time, Mitchell said contractors for
the project had been evaluated and the
HDC would announce the successful
Yesterday, when told Burke claimed
he was one of the contractors involved
on the project, Mitchell said he was not
aware and advised HDC managing di-
rector Brent Lyons be contacted.
Addressing the issue in a text mes-
sage last night, Lyons confirmed
Burke's company is one of four firms
on the Bon Air South housing project.
"The company won a competitive
tender for one of four packages ten-
dered," Lyons wrote.
Lyons could not say when the con-
tract was issued, the scope of works or
the value of the contract, but promised
to provide the info today.
Yesterday, Burke said while his busi-
ness was now being roped into the
brouhaha, he never approached Mc-
Donald for a contract while she served
as housing minister. He said he had also
not spoken to her since she was fired.
"But she knows my support is there.
As much as the country stating that
she was fired because of me, I think she
knows what would have really tran-
spired. She knew I had good intentions.
I went to support Miss McDonald. That
was all it had to it."
Blaming social media for blowing
things out of proportion, Burke said
"this pressure is nothing new to me.
My children are the ones who paying
the price for it now. At the end of the
day I teach them to be strong in the
face of adversity. All those who saying
this and that... let them produce the
evidence and go to the police. I don't
understand how I was this big threat
to President Carmona. I am yet to see
evidence to support that. The last time
I check my name was not Bin Laden,
nor am I part of Isis."
Upset Burke writes to CoP
Cedrick Burke durng an interview
with Guardian Media Limited at his
Trinity Road, Sealots Home, on
Saturday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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