PM: Criminal justice system slow, but it has not collapsed

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley –

WHILE agreeing that the wheels of justice turn slowly, the Prime Minister said the criminal justice system has not collapsed.

Highlighting lengthy delays particularly involving white collar crimes, Rowley said his government is doing all it can to address that which included the building of courts.

He said with possible criminal charges arising out of the commission of enquiry into the collapse of Clico and the Hindu Credit Union, and ongoing cases surrounding the construction of the Piarco International Airport, the criminal justice system may be slow, but has not collapsed.

“It has its challenges and its challenges are not beyond us. I am saying to you what I expect to happen going forward is that all entities involved, agencies and individuals, face facts, face the truth and get on with the job,” he said on Thursday.

He said his government is hell bent on tackling white collar crime and has already spent over $100 million as the agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting matters look into criminal conduct stemming from Clico’s collapse.

In 2016, the Prime Minister received a copy of the Sir Anthony Colman report into the collapse of Clico and copies of the report were sent to DPP Roger Gaspard, SC, and to the Attorney General. To date, no one has been charged as a result of that report. Sir Anthony died in 2017.

Asked his thoughts on no charges laid, seven year after the report was done, Rowley said he would rather not comment publicly.

He did reveal that he was approached by someone who wanted payment in respect of work done for reading the reports, totalling some $115 million. At the time he was approached, $75m has already been paid.

He added that he sought advice and the DPP told him to pay the $35m, otherwise it would be equal to ending criminal proceedings into the Clico collapse. He confirmed the $35m was paid.

“We complied with the law. I did not want it said that the government by not paying this bill, ended that enquiry,” he said on Thursday, adding there have been other enquiries that were aborted because money was spent with no returns.

In 2021, then attorney general Faris Al-Rawi said Government paid $134m to the investigating forensic accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, for work done on behalf of the DPP between 2015-2021.