Sunday 12 July, 2020

PM slams Moonilal's 'malicious' claims on 'fake oil' scandal

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has condemned "malicious" statements made by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal during a Parliament sitting on Friday, saying he intends to seek legal counsel. 

Speaking with reporters following a ministerial tour of the Red House in Port of Spain on Monday, Rowley said he is now considering his legal options.

On Friday Moonilal claimed to have information regarding the Petrotrin "fake oil" scandal and documentary evidence of monies deposited into a foreign account owned by Rowley and his wife.

Rowley described the allegations as slanderous and said it was yet another example of the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) using parliamentary privilege to attack his character and his family.

“It was in this very building that Vernella Alleye-Toppin and Dr Moonilal made the most disgusting allegations against me and my father,” he said.

He said the UNC continues to bring his family into their attempts to tarnish his name.

Rowley said the matter is now engaging the attention of his legal team who will advise on what actions are to be taken.

He sought to assure the public that the allegations made by Moonilal were false.

“I simply want to say to the population that there is absolutely no truth and no basis whatsoever to have generated that speculation and those innuendos and that attack, absolutely none," he stated.

He added that parliamentary privilege, while necessary, should be guided by responsible conduct.

"It is a purely malicious UNC strategy where a member comes into the house, makes the most scandalous claim on live television and once it is said you can’t take it back even though you are asked in the Parliament to stand by it or to withdraw it."

“As long as my lawyers tell me that I have been slandered by people who didn’t have parliamentary privilege or people who lifted that privilege, once my lawyers tell me that I have a case, that case will be adjudicated upon in the Hall of Justice.”

Rowley also took aim at Princes Town MP Barry Padarath who he said had also attacked his wife, Sharon.

Padarath had criticized Mrs Rowley for her comments calling for the business community to contribute more to charity, saying she should "tell her husband to step up or step out".

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