Lutchmedial queries $1.8m paid to a public official

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial. FILE PHOTO –

OPPOSITION Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial raised questions over a public entity’s payment of $1.8 million into the credit union account of a high-ranking public official. Her allegations were contained in a post on her Facebook page on Tuesday.

She said the payment was disclosed in a source of funds declaration form. Lutchmedial said the form was leaked, along with two letters of award from the public body, plus the personal identification of a woman involved in the transaction.

The senator said a cheque from the public body was also uncovered and it was made out directly to the credit union. The letters of award were made out to a relative of the public official and were provided to support the declaration, Lutchmedial said.

Lutchmedial said the letters of award were in the sum of $1.1 million.

She said the matter should attract the attention of the Prime Minister, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the TTPS.

Lutchmedial asked if the letters of award were followed by a contract, why did the public body directly pay funds into the credit union, why was there a difference in the two sums, and was the transaction reported to the Inland Revenue Division and Integrity Commission?

Newsday tried to get a comment from the public official named by Lutchmedial but calls to the official’s cellphone were not answered and there was no reply to text and WhatsApp messages sent to the official’s cellular phone.

Lutchmedial, the Trinidad Express newspaper and journalist Anna Ramdass have all been sued by Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, over a Special Branch report done in 2019 when he was a Government Senator.

Following allegations raised by Lutchmedial as she referred to the secret Special Branch report, Cummings was defended by the Prime Minister after calls were made for Cummings to be fired from Cabinet.

Dr Rowley made it clear that he had seen no proof of wrongdoing.