Saturday 14 December, 2019

PM blasts "false and malicious" statements on A&V Drilling payments

The Prime Minister is today refuting claims that he and/or his wife received any payments from the controversial A&V Drilling.

During a sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday 15 December, Member of Parliament for Oropouche East, Dr Roodal Moonilal made allegations regarding a cheque being paid to the spouse of a high-ranking government official. Later comments implicated the Prime Minister. 

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister states that Moonilal subsequently withdrew the statements. However, it says, the claims have since been promoted on social media by people associated with the United National Congress.

According to the release “Dr Keith Rowley states categorically that there is no truth to any suggestion that either he, or his wife, or anyone whatsoever on his behalf, received any wire transfer or cheque payment or any payment whatsoever, from or on behalf of AV Drilling.”

The Prime Minister and his wife also denied that either of them operates any foreign bank account outside of Trinidad and Tobago.

They called any statement contradictory to this to be “patent falsehoods concocted by such persons as a deliberate slanderous conspiracy for self-serving political gain”.

Rowley has reportedly intrusted his attorneys to pursue legal action against those who have re-published the accusations.

A&V Drilling, which is owned by Haniff Baksh, was brought into the spotlight in September when Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar cited an internal audit of Petrotrin which revealed that the state-owned company had paid $100 million dollars to a company, A&V Oil & Gas - also owned by Baksh - for oil which was not supplied.

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In November, Persad Bissessar’s allegations were revealed to be true, after the initial findings of a forensic audit commissioned by the Board of Petrotrin revealed there to be a discrepancy between money paid to A&V Oil and Gas and the quantity of oil supplied.

The Office of the Prime Minister says the Board of Petrotrin continues to deal with the allegations of overpayment for oil and the Government awaits the outcome of their actions.

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