Moonilal: Government broke tax, customs laws to influence charges against Lee

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Roodal Moonilal.

OROPOUCHE MP Roodal Moonilal is calling on Finance Minister Colm Imbert to tell the country if he personally called former commissioner of police (CoP) Gary Griffith to instruct him to investigate Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee.

Moonilal has also called on Griffith to “please identify the Cabinet minister that called you, that sent a file to you with secret, private, confidential information on this said matter involving David Lee.”

A minister’s obtaining and disseminating such information would be doing so in breach of the Income Tax Act and Customs Act, he said.

Moonilal, speaking at the UNC’s Virtual Report on Monday, said Imbert needs to “tell this country – and we have a recording we can find, so be careful of your reply…Did you collect a file on this matter pursuant to your announcement in Parliament?

“Did you call (former CoP Gary Griffith) and say, ‘Mr Commissioner, aha! With your normal Cheshire Cat grin. Did you call and tell Griffith, ‘I have a file. I want you to lock up David Lee’? Did you do that?”

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, winding up the budget debate in October 2020, told the Parliament: “Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition can enquire of the leader for Pointe-a-Pierre as to why he used exemptions and privilege to purchase a motor car,” later adding, “This need investigation.”

Lee was charged last Friday on counts of fraudulently receiving a tax exemption (valued at $1.4 million) and for conspiracy to defraud, in relation to the purchase of a vehicle being driven by another person.

Lee said the charges were a result of a “political witch hunt and distraction by this Government.”

Moonilal said this information received by Imbert and relayed in Parliament would have been leaked from the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) in breach of the Income Tax Act, with further breaches being committed outlined in the Customs Act.

He referred to section four of the Income Tax Act, which says that “any person having official duty or being employed in the administration of this act shall regard and deal with all documents, information, returns, assessments, copies, and so on, as secret and confidential, and shall make and subscribe a declaration in the form prescribed to the effect before a magistrate.”

“So,” Moonilal charged, “do you know, when you are in the Board of Inland Revenue, you take an oath that carries penalties in law, jail, fine, that you cannot give information?

“Mr Imbert, the Cabinet minister with this file, where he get that information from the Board of Inland Revenue, in breach of the Income Tax Act?”