Lutchmedial: I will not be silenced by lawsuits

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial. –

UNC SENATOR Jayanti Lutchmedial has said threats of legal action against her by government minister Foster Cummings will not silence her.

“No amount of lawsuits going to stop me from asking questions,” she said from the platform of the United National Congress (UNC) on Monday night.

She presented fresh allegations that $1.8 million obtained via contracts from state companies were deposited in a credit union on the eve of the last general election and credited to the account of a candidate in that election.

She said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) must say if it did enhanced due diligence in this matter and whether the politician declared this income to the Board of Inland Revenue.

“Did he pay proper tax on that? And if not, then serious questions about tax evasion arise.”

Lutchmedial again called on the Prime Minister to give a progress report on allegations in the 2019 Special Branch report on Cummings compiled when he was a senator.

She said not only the PM and Cummings had questions to answer, but so did former and present housing ministers Randall Mitchell and Pennelope Beckles on transactions involving land owned by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and Cummings.

She played a video clip from TV6 News, which ran a story in 2017 about allegations of occupants being bullied to get off HDC land, having their crops destroyed and a “no trespassing” sign put up on the properties they had previously occupied.

In response, Mitchell, who was then Housing Minister said there was trespassing on HDC land, as the HDC did not evict tenants, bulldoze crops or erect a sign. He said then an investigation would have been launched.

Lutchmedial questioned what happened to that investigation.

She said HDC chairman Noel Garcia and former managing director Brent Lyons, who resigned in 2020, also has questions to answer.

She pointed out that the Special Branch report which she made public, and over which Cummings has initiated legal action, has since been said to be an authentic document.

Lutchmedial chastised the Prime Minister for “diminishing the work of the Special Branch” in an attempt to come to the defence of Cummings by drawing a distinction between evidence and intelligence.

Spelling out that the Special Branch is responsible for intelligence-gathering in matters of national security and organised criminal activity, as well as, for the protection of high-level state officials and foreign dignitaries, she said his comment that this could be hearsay was insulting.

“This is the confidence you have in the men and women of the TTPS, especially the Special Branch?” she asked. “You are making the Special Branch out to be like the ‘corner-house tanty,’ just repeating things they hear elsewhere, rumours and hearsay.”

She compared his stance on the report to that of intelligence he garnered about former CoP Gary Griffith.

“What did he do? He instructed that the merit list (for selection of top cop) be withdrawn. He went and had conversations, as head of the National Security Council, with the President and Service Commission and he could do whatever he had to protect the people of this country.

“You did not feel that way in 2019.”