PM’s friend on illegal mining charge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Allan Warner, founder of the Warner Group of Companies, as he left the St Joseph Police Station on July 4, after he was released on $100,000 bail on a charge of processing aggregate without a licence. – Photo by Roger Jacob

ALLAN WARNER, founder of the Warner Group of Companies and a close friend of Prime Minister Dr Rowley, has been charged with the criminal offence of processing aggregate without a licence after two days in police custody.

Warner, 74, of Tower 2, Tragarete Road, Woodbrook, turned himself in at the St Joseph Police Station to officers of the Multi-Agency Task Force in the company of his attorneys, Pamela Elder, SC, and Russell Warner (no relation) on July 2.

Allan Warner, founder of the Warner Group of Companies, as he left the St Joseph Police Station on July 4, after being released on $100,000 bail on a charge of processing aggregate without a licence. – Photo by Roger Jacob

However, he had to be taken for medical treatment at the nearby St Augustine Private Hospital after complaining of feeling unwell that same day where he spent the night under police guard.

On July 4, Warner was identified as the owner of an aggregate mining plant at Moonan Road, Wallerfield, before he was formally charged with the summary offence in contravention of Section 45 (1) (a) of the Minerals Act. The offence carries a penalty of $500,000 fine and five years in prison.

He was released on $100,000 bail with surety by Justice of the Peace (JP) Abrahim Ali shortly before 5.30 pm. Warner’s relative, Veronique Logan, stood as the bailor. Warner is scheduled to appear before the Arima Magistrates Court on July 19, to join his son, Aloko Ato Warner and seven others who were charged in early May for a similar offence by officers of the Multi-Agency Task Force (MATF) led by ASP Leon Haynes.

In response for a comment to a WhatsApp question sent by Newsday which informed Rowley of the development, as well as his previous public stance against illegal quarrying, he stated, “Sorry to hear that.”

An overloader at an aggregate processing plant at Moonan Road, Wallerfield which was shut down by police on May 2. –

There was no response to a follow up question as to whether the PM intended to speak to Warner to get his side of the matter.

The Opposition UNC had in the past accused Rowley and his wife, Sharon, of benefiting from favourable treatment from Warner, a principal of Inez Investment, during the purchase of a townhouse at Inez Gate, Shirvan Road, Tobago in 2019.

The townhouse which was being sold for $1.7 million was bought by the Rowleys for the discounted price of $1.2 million which the PM said was as a basis of negotiations. One of the PM’s daughters also owns a townhouse at the same development.

In May, police claimed they shut down a multi-million-dollar illegal aggregate processing plant with some of the latest modernised machinery, including two multi-million-dollar excavators at a wash plant owned by Warner. Police have been stationed at the wash plant since the operation.

One of the excavators which had been seized had been rented from Massy and has since been released to the conglomerate after a court order. Parts of the machinery were reported missing even though it was under guard at the Regiment’s Camp Cumuto.

The aggregate processing plant which was shut down by police on May 2 at Moonan Road, Wallerfield. –

Warner’s son, of Woodbrook, Robert Wilson, of Todds Road, Reuben Maprangala, of Champs Fleurs, Ricky Joseph, of New Grant, Corey Charles, of Diego Martin, Deon George, of Laventille, Shastri Mahadeo, of Chaguanas, Kimal Williams, of Sea Lots were jointly charged by Cpl Terrence Nowbutt of the MATF with processing minerals without a licence. The accused were granted bail in the sum of $75,000 by JP Ali.

In a telephone interview with Newsday, Allan Warner confirmed the police operation at the Wallerfield plant on May 2 and the arrest of his son and seven other workers.

The information which spells out the charge against Allan Warner. –

“This matter is in the hands of our legal people. We don’t wish to offer any further comment,” he said in a phone interview on May 4.

In December 2023, MATF officers arrested four men at Five Acres in Vega de Oropouche after they were allegedly held illegally digging and removing aggregate from state lands. Two multi-million-dollar excavators were seized in that operation.

A 40-tonne excavator and a 20-tonne excavator among other equipment were seized during the police operation and taken to Camp Cumuto for safekeeping.

MATF officers were alerted by Forestry Division of illegal quarrying and with the assistance of the Multi-Option Police Section, the National Operations Task Force and the police Air Support Unit an operation was carried out where the suspects were arrested.

A team from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, Lands and Surveys Division and Office of the Commissioner of State Lands were also involved in the operation.