PM Keith Rowley this morning called on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to investigate allegations made in Parliament on Tuesday, by Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, and lay the findings of these investigations in the public domain.
During his contribution to the budget debate, Moonilal claimed to have documents including an email as he sought to link Rowley to corruption via banking transactions done in Florida and involving the A&V Drilling company. Moonilal made these claims under the cover of parliamentary privilege.
However, at a press conference this morning, Rowley called Moonilal’s claims a “monstrous lie.”
Rowley’s attorney Michael Quamina, who was also at the press conference, said his client will be seeking further action against Moonilal since the Opposition MP, by way of social media posts, publicly aired the allegations made initially under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
Quamina added that research showed Moonilal’s documents namely the email which he read in Parliament, were false and an email address in the email purporting to be Rowley’s email, was also false.
This in essence, is a case of history repeating itself as Emailgate Part II. Rowley, as then Opposition Leader, made allegations in Parliament against members of the then People’s Partnership linking them to wrongdoing. Former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar denied these allegations, claimed Rowley’s emails were false and ordered a police investigation into Rowley’s claims.
Rowley is now defending himself against email allegations and like his predecessor, is calling on the authorities including the Police Commissioner to investigate Moonilal’s claims. He has also instructed the Attorney General (AG) to seek information from authorities in Miami under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
Quamina said while Moonilal’s remarks on Tuesday night were protected by parliamentary privilege, the MP’s subsequent posts on Facebook could expose him to liability for libel in line with a famous case involving a New Zealand MP. Quamina also vowed legal action against people he dubbed “paid bloggers” who repeat the allegations online.
Saying he had been disallowed by the Speaker from joining Tuesday night’s debate to respond to Moonilal’s allegations, Rowley promised to make a statement in the House today.
“I have transacted no business in Florida with any person,” Rowley said. “I have no banking relationship with anyone in Florida.”
Saying he was running a government of morality in public affairs, he said corruption is a heinous crime that violated the oath of office he has taken.
He said he is asking Commissioner Gary Griffith to direct the relevant arm of the police to fully investigate the allegations as a matter of urgency, as well as the FIU. While the FIU investigates in secrecy, Rowley said he wants his business to be made public, insisting, “The outcome ought to be made known to the public.”
Quamina alleged that Moonilal had cited bank account numbers as if read from a bank document, when actually they were alleged merely cited in an e-mail that Moonilal had referred to.
“We’ll be pursuing all avenues to show how false this contribution was,” Quamina said.