Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2013 Contents A5
Friday, May 24, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The whistle-blower who provided
Opposition Leader Keith Rowley with a
package of e-mails last December con-
firmed to Rowley the substance of the
information was true, says PNM PRO
He was asked about aspects of the con-
troversy yesterday after the conclusion of
debate on Wednesday in Parliament, where
Rowley produced the 31 e-mails.
He said the e-mails, bearing the addresses
of some high government officials, pur-
ported to contain a plot by those officials
on the Section 34 issue.
Al-Rawi said he saw the e-mails for the
first time when Rowley spoke about them
to a PNM group last week Saturday before
this week s debate.
He said he pointed out the discrepancies
to Rowley and he said Rowley said he was
aware of them but he said Rowley specifically
directed the material be brought forward
to the Parliament in exactly the same format
in which he had received it.
Al-Rawi said he did not think the dis-
crepancies in the e-mails affected their
credibility and Rowley had received hard-
copy printouts of the e-mails last December
and had also said he had verified them.
Asked if the whistle-blower had witnessed
the purported events in the e-mails, the
matter being written or had other personal
knowledge of the e-mails which would sup-
port the whistle-blower s claim that they
were true, Al-Rawi said: "I can t speak to
He also said he did not know if the whis-
tle-blower had sufficient background to be
sure the e-mails were valid.
He queried what would be done to the
whistle-blower if he or she were brought
forward for which the UNC was clamour-
ing.Asked if Rowley then took the word of
the whistle-blower, Al-Rawi said: "He
assessed the information and it was apparent
from events that transpired at the times
when these were purportedly written that
an investigation was required."
On what other processes the PNM sub-
jected the material to in order to verify it,
Al-Rawi said he was not aware of other
"But I know Dr Rowley says he was com-
fortable to bring this forward because, having
taken it to the President, and it having gone
to the Integrity Commission (IC) and there
being no IC yet appointed, it is necessary
to raise public awareness and public sen-
timent around these issues to press for the
appointment of an investigator through the
IC," he said.
Asked about the view in some quarters
speculating about the e-mails origins that
the enemy of the PNM s enemies were its
friends, Al-Rawi said he didn t know the
whistle-blower s identity or whether the
police probe would cover all of that.
He said that was why a forensic probe
was needed, perhaps with expertise from
He said Rowley felt compelled to bring
the material to the Parliament "which is
the only forum which affords protection
for proper ventilation of this kind of issue."
He added: "It s the only forum which
will cause the weight of public opinion to
be raised to ensure institutions, like the
Integrity Commission, are properly popu-
Al-Rawi said it was not for Rowley and
the PNM to have evidence or to investigate
the issue but to raise it for it to be inves-
tigated. He said the PNM did not have the
resources the police had to probe the mat-
ter.Asked why the party had not then taken
the e-mails to the police or Director of Pub-
lic Prosecutions or other authorities to check
them out before revealing them, Al-Rawi
said the information pointed to subterfuge
among T&T s highest office-holders and it
was imperative to report that to no other
than the highest office-holder in T&T, the
President and the Integrity Commission.
"The IC has broad powers to allow this
to be probed and can supervise, via inde-
pendent authority. If the Prime Minister
says the IC s powers do not allow it to
undertake this task, the Prime Minister
stands in ignorance of Section 138 (2 )(d)
of the Constitution, which allows the IC to
monitor and investigate conduct, practices
and procedures or dishonesty or corruption,"
On another aspect of the controversy,
Rowley said in Parliament on Wednesday
that the "Thomas" referred to in one Sep-
tember 10 e-mail, whom he had guessed
was US charge d affaires Thomas Smitham,
was not in fact Smitham.
Rowley said it was "another Thomas."
This was after both Government and the
US Embassy pointed out Thomas Smitham
arrived in T&T in late November, after the
e-mail was allegedly written.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar,
ending debate on Wednesday, apologised
to Smitham for his name having been
dragged into the spotlight because of the
PNM s e-mails.
Yesterday Al-Rawi, asked who the other
"Thomas" was, said he did not know.
Al-Rawi: Rowley was
told e-mails genuine
Former Chaguanas West MP
Jack Warner presents his
nomination papers to UNC
receptionist Silvia Bachan at
Rienzi Complex yesterday
evening. He is offering
himself as a UNC candidate.
In an interview after the
filing his papers the former
national security minister
said he agreed with
Opposition Leader Dr Keith
Rowley that the contentious
e-mails revealed in
Parliament this week should
be examined by higher
authorities other than the
police. However, Warner said
if the e-mails were found to
be false, then Rowley "must
pay the price."
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
The Integrity Commission (IC) has pursued "infor-
mal inquiries" on processes towards authenticating
the e-mails which Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley
received last year and which were passed to the com-
mission by the former President George Maxwell
Richards in March.
A backlog of work is also starting to affect the com-
mission adversely, the commission s communications
division confirmed yesterday.
The commission gave the comments to the T&T
Guardian in response to questions in the wake of the
release of the e-mails in Parliament on Monday.
The e-mails are purported to bear addresses belonging
to the Prime Minister and other high government offi-
cials and the contents allegedly involve a plot concerning
the Section 34 issue.
Rowley said he received the 31 e-mails from a whis-
tle-blower last year and had sent them to the President
He said he waited for developments and when none
were forthcoming, he decided to raise it in the Par-
liament. He has called for it to be probed by the IC
and for a new commission to be appointed following
the expiration of the last commission s term in March.
Richards told the T&T Guardian he passed the e-
mails to the commission as a matter of course, as the
material needed authentication and the most appro-
priate body to handle this independently would have
been the IC.
He said it was done in complete confidence and
secrecy so the commission would carry out any appro-
priate investigation that might be required.
However, after the e-mails were disclosed this week,
Government and Opposition members are now in dis-
agreement on whether the IC can probe the e-mails.
The Prime Minister and Attorney General say the
IC s powers do not extend to criminal matters such
as those which may arise out of the issues in the e-
The Opposition, however, says the IC is constitu-
tionally empowered to monitor and probe conduct,
practices and procedures, dishonesty or corruption.
Asked his opinion on the arguments and IC s powers
in this matter, commission chairman Ken Gordon said
"In a sense this is breaking new ground. Before the
commission can make any statement on this we will
have to examine it and get the best advice before com-
menting on it one way or another. We have asked our
legal people to look at it."
Following the T&T Guardian s queries about the
status of the e-mails, the commission s communication
division said documents from Richards were passed
to Gordon under cover of a letter which states inter
"I am forwarding to you the attached documents
which were passed to me in order for your commission
to determine whether they disclose matters which
should be investigated under the provisions of the
Integrity in Public Life Act."
The commission said Richards letter, dated March
4, 2013, was received on March 6.
"It should be noted that this letter was received on
the above date, March 6, 2013. The term of office of
four of the five Integrity Commissioners came to an
end on March 14, 2013, the fifth commissioner being
the chairman, whose term began on November 1, 2011,
(and) will terminate on October 30, 2014," the com-
"In the absence of a functioning team of Integrity
commissioners, or even a quorum, no formal action
can properly be taken. The e-mails are secured at the
commission and will be discussed at the first meeting
of the commission."
Asked if any effort had been made to ascertain the
authenticity of the e-mails, the commission said: "We
have indeed pursued informal enquiries by the appro-
priate arm of the commission to better prepare the
relevant documentation, but before these can be pursued
we must await the appointment of the commissioners."
(GA) See Page A7
in 'informal probe'
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
has volunteered to give up her Blackberry
cellphone to police to assist in their probe
of the PNM's e-mails.
She said during the conclusion of
Thursday's Parliament debate on the
issue she had noted Opposition Leader
Keith Rowley's queries about if the police
had checked any equipment in connection
with the issue.
She added: "They can take it. They can
probe us. My hands are clean and my
heart is pure. If there is any further
information needed, I will hand over my
Yesterday Al-Rawi said Government
members mentioned in the issue should
have done what was normally done in the
private sector in matters like the e-mails,
hand over all data, equipment and laptops
etc.He said a search and seizure also
applied in police cases. He also said all of
the Government officials should have
made a statutory declaration immediately
that they were not involved in the e-mail
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