PNM Tobago Council condemns purported Integrity Commission letter

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine –

THE PEOPLE’S National Movement Tobago Council is strongly condemning the recent circulation of a purported official Integrity Commission document, which the commission has confirmed is fake.

This came after a letter was circulated on social media, last week said to be from the commission, indicating that THA Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James was under investigation.

In a release on March 14, the commission demanded that any unauthorised use of its letterhead and issuing fabricated documents supposedly from the commission “cease with immediate effect.”

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine spoke about the issue in an interview on the Tobago Updates morning show, saying he had received a “seemingly false” letter from the Integrity Commission.

He identified several discrepancies in the letter and asked the commission to verify its authenticity.

In a statement on March 15, the Tobago Council called for “a full investigation into this reprehensible and fraudulent act, which has the potential to undermine a critical organisation within our democracy.”

Noting that Augustine had introduced the letter to the public, the Tobago Council said he “must be prepared to co-operate with such an investigation by revealing the source of the document.”

In its release on March 14, the commission said, “The Integrity Commission is aware that a letter bearing the letterhead of the commission and purporting to have been issued by the commission captioned, Investigation into alleged improper conduct of Mr Trevor James in his capacity as Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development of the THA, is being circulated in the public domain.

“The commission advises that this letter is fraudulent and accordingly advises the public to disregard this letter and its contents.”

The commission said it noted with concern the unauthorised use of its letterhead as well as an unauthorised signature purporting to be on behalf of the acting Registrar.

“The commission, therefore, condemns, in the strongest terms, the letter’s apparent intent to mislead the general public and ultimately discredit the commission.”

The Tobago Council, in its release, also reiterated its call for a full-scale investigation into the actual screenshots of WhatsApp messages alleged to be communication between a THA official and a contractor, “as this is the only way to validate or invalidate the authenticity of the conversations.”

The party’s Tobago leader Ancil Dennis, at a news conference on March 10, called on Augustine to address the veracity of screenshots, which were posted online, showing an alleged conversation between a THA official and a contractor. The THA official had requested kickbacks. Augustine, in the interview on Tobago Updates, denied ever requesting or receiving kickbacks for contracts given by the THA.