Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings arrives at the Red House for Friday’s sitting of Parliament. – JEFF K MAYERS
Former commissioner of police Gary Griffith personally handed over the 2019 police report on then government senator Foster Cummings to the Prime Minister.
“When it was handed over to me I hand-delivered it to several senior government ministers including the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister,” Griffith told Sunday Newsday. He declined to give any details as the report remains under investigation by the current police executive.
At the UNC’s TT Speaks Event on Thursday, Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial read from a 2019 document she claimed was from the TT Police Service accusing Cummings, now Youth Development and National Service Minister, of conducting “unscrupulous businesses” through three companies including the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). It also alleges improper behaviour in relation to government contracts and an association with alleged criminals.
Among other things, the report said he claimed three parcels of HDC land as his own, that he “used his influence” to subcontract Pical Services Ltd (PSL) through HDC to dispose of garbage from an HDC development in Couva, and that PSL and another company with which he was involved, Cyldeon Enterprises Ltd, hired a reputed drug dealer as a subcontractor for several jobs.
At a media conference at his office on Friday evening, Cummings said there were several inaccuracies.
He said he was a director of PSL but resigned managerial duties in 2016 when he became a parliamentary secretary; that he was unaware of any company called Cyldeon – but knew one called Clydon; his family home was located on lands purchased from the HDC; the other two properties were purchased from private individuals; and the addresses of two of the properties indicated were not owned by him or his wife.
Cummings said the use of the document on a political platform was a calculated attack on his character.
Former police commssioner Gary Griffith. –
In response, Lutchmedial told Sunday Newsday any inaccuracies in the report were a reflection on the TTPS who prepared it. But it was the Opposition’s role to hold the Government to account.
“Character assassination is if someone goes in Parliament or a platform and talks about false documents – like emailgate. The TTPS confirmed the report is genuine. I didn’t sit home and type it up like the fake e-mails.
“I have demonstrated that the taxpayer-funded TTPS has discharged its duty. The questions to be answered now is not by Foster Cummings but by the PM as chair of the National Security Council to say if he had the report, what he has done with it and what is the outcome of it.”
In a press release on Saturday, the United National Congress public relations officer Dr Kirk Meighoo said that Dr Rowley did not respond to the revelation was a show of contempt for TT.
“Instead of making Cummings step down and clear his name, Keith Rowley made Cummings an MP and gave him an elevated ministerial portfolio. Indeed, Rowley placed the compromised Cummings as Minister of Youth Development and National Service!”
On the point of PSL’s garbage disposal contract, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation chairman Henry Awong said he did not know who had the contract.
He explained that the regional corporation was responsible for the collection and disposal of garbage within the region but some development areas, including HDC developments, could be considered private.
He said usually once a request was made and an assessment done by the corporation, it would extend the service. As such the corporation collects garbage from all of the HDC developments in the region except for the new Exchange Housing Development in Couva as there was never a request.
He said at one point, scavenging contracts were issued through Solid Waste Management Co Ltd (SWMCOL) and the corporation would oversee and manage them. However, as the matter of issuing such contracts was in court, no new contracts had been awarded since about 2013 and old contracts have been extended to new houses in their assigned areas.
“I have no information with regards to Pical being awarded any contract. I don’t know if they are doing the collection of garbage in Exchange Development. I’m not sure who it is.”
SWMCOL CEO Kevin Thompson added that as private developers, the HDC contracted collection of garbage to some of its developments and it had “a lot of contracts.”