Monday 26 October, 2020

Anil Roberts on Life Sport: Everyone should have resigned

Former Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts

Former Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts

Almost three years after Former Sport Minister, Anil Roberts resigned from his ministerial portfolio over allegations of impropriety in public office, there is an affirmation by the former D’Abadie/ Omeara Member of Parliament that he was asked to step down by then Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Roberts was interviewed by veteran journalist, Tony Fraser, on Power 102.1FM, this morning. He was quizzed on the matters surrounding his resignation, namely the Life Sport imbroglio.

Roberts this morning said the Prime Minister had received a fraudulent audit report, which led to her call for him to resign as Sport Minister on July 31, 2014.

“The Prime Minister received a fraudulent audit report which stated…and let’s get to the crux of the matter, the crux of the matter is “34 million dollars, this audit says, was corruptly stolen” and this is why the Prime Minister correctly asked me to resign; because if this is true, anybody should resign – the board should resign, the CEO should resign, the Permanent Secretary should resign.”  

Roberts sought to highlight the intricacies of the matter, noting that the report shed light on the payment of $34 million dollars by the Sport Ministry to a private contractor despite the warning by external attorneys,  that the payment should not have been paid.

"The Prime Minister, in receiving what purported to be independent public servants’ information – an audit that should be beyond politics – read in point 1.2 'given the widespread nature of the breaches it is difficult to understand how they went unnoticed by the Ministry of Sport. Consideration has been given to whether there was complicity by officers of the Ministry. For example, the entire payment of 34 million dollars to E-Beam interact was made notwithstanding that external attorneys said do not pay.'"

The Former Sport Minister said a conflict between the Board of Directors of the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago and the private contractor to whom the money was paid, heard him deliver an opinion on the matter- and that was all that he could offer as Minister of Sport.

"Opinion was as long as you have any problems queries otherwise, do not pay. This action between the Sport Company, the board and this provider…there was a conflict that had been going on for seven months about performance of a contract. I was made aware of it by the Chairman and I gave the Chairman my opinion because all a Minister can do is give the Chairman and the board their opinion.”

Also speaking on the matter with Tony Fraser this morning, Former National Security Minister, Gary Griffith says Anil Roberts did no wrong. It was Griffith, who had in 2014, brought the Life Sport scandal to the attention of then Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Griffith said maybe he should have liaised with the Sport Minister more, then.

“When I brought it forward – unfortunately, probably I should have liaised much more with the Minister of Sport – I did my work, I sent it to the Cabinet. And then by doing that, that is when the Prime Minister decided to launch an investigation.”

Griffith said when he investigated the situation, Anil Roberts was found to have done no wrong.

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