Hinds, CoP Jacob alarmed by Special Branch report leak

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fitzgerald Hinds –

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds is questioning how a police document containing detailed allegations against a government minister of suspicious business transactions surfaced on a political platform on Thursday night, describing it as “political bacchanal.”

The report, dated in 2019, appeared to have originated from the police Special Branch.

It implicated Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings in several illegal activities, some involving a reputed drug dealer, and receiving contracts from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) through his construction companies Pical Services Ltd (PSL) and Clydeon Enterprises Ltd (CEL).

Cummings was a senator at the time the allegations were made.

During her address at the UNC’s TT Speaks meeting in San Fernando, Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial called on the Prime Minister to say whether he was aware of this report and the allegations contained in it.

Responding to reporters after visiting the Office for Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) disaster preparedness caravan on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, on Friday, Hinds said while he had not seen the physical document, it appeared to be authentic police correspondence and the leak was cause for serious concern.

Hinds said he had contacted the Special Branch earlier on Friday to confirm whether the report was authentic and that an investigation was under way.

“So far I have reason to believe that it was an authentic document which found itself in the hands of an opposition senator. That is the problem, to me.

“What they don’t know is that all of those documents are coded, and information that has come to me demonstrates that document was directed by the police Special Branch to a particular police officer in 2019, and they have proof that it was sent only to one particular police officer.

“So now that it is in the public domain…the question we will ask is, how did that document, which was issued to one particular police officer in 2019, end up in the public domain scandalously and in bacchanal?”

Referring to a recent discussion with three former police commissioners, Hinds said one of the issues the police were facing was the release of sensitive information. He reminded officers of the need to keep certain information confidential.

Asked whether he was concerned over the allegations against Cummings, Hinds said the opposition had a responsibility to give any information on wrongdoing to the police.

Referring to recent allegations by opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar about the illegal use of wiretap equipment, Hinds accused the opposition of making such claims without providing evidence.

“Mr Cummings is a businessman, and he conducted business before he became an MP.

“If any businessman, including a businessman who went on to become a minister of government or a parliamentarian, did anything in breach of the law – and I suspect that what you’re seeing there is just bacchanal, but I don’t know – those matters, if reported by the opposition to the police, will be investigated.

“But I have noticed that they come on the platform, they titillate the public with rubbish, and they walk away.”

Responding to the report, acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob, who also attended the caravan, told reporters the matter was being investigated and he could not disclose much more detail.

“We saw the document, a document coming from the TTPS in 2019, I want to emphasise 2019.”Jacob became acting commissioner in December 2021.

He added, “Yes, I contacted the Special Branch, and we are looking at the matter, and that is all I can say at this point in time: that we are dealing with the situation.”

Contacted for comment former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said, “There are things I would have seen or known about that I won’t be able to divulge even though I’m no longer a part of the TTPS.”

In 2020 Griffith said the police would crack down on state contracts being issuedto gang members, saying it had been a recurring challenge for years.