Rowley: Former PM told Marlene about charges month before arrest

An in­con­gru­ous po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion led Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley to re­veal to the Par­lia­ment that Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad Bisses­sar tipped off her po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­sary, Mar­lene Mc Don­ald one month be­fore her ar­rest.


“I didn’t know Mar­lene Mc Don­ald was go­ing to get ar­rest­ed but one month be­fore she was ar­rest­ed the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion could have called her to her of­fice and tell her she was go­ing to be ar­rest­ed,” Row­ley said.

As the dis­clo­sure echoed through the Cham­ber of the Par­lia­ment on Mon­day night, gasps and wows em­anat­ed from the Gov­ern­ment bench.

On Au­gust 7, Of­fi­cers of the Fraud Squad swooped down on Mc­Don­ald’s home at Val­ley View, Mara­cas, St Joseph, where they ex­e­cut­ed a search war­rant and took away sev­er­al items.

This was in con­nec­tion with six-year-old in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the al­leged si­phon­ing of over $1 mil­lion from a Gov­ern­ment Min­istry to three or­gan­i­sa­tions which po­lice claimed linked to fam­i­ly and friends of the then pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion min­is­ter and her hus­band.

Four days lat­er, Mc Don­ald was charged with sev­en crim­i­nal charges, in­clud­ing mis­be­hav­iour in pub­lic of­fice, con­spir­a­cy to de­fraud and mon­ey laun­der­ing.

As the Prime Min­is­ter con­tin­ued his con­tri­bu­tion to the Firearms (Amend­ment) Bill 2019, he told the Par­lia­ment that as the Chair­man of the Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil he did not know that the po­lice were on to Mar­lene Mc Don­ald but the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Siparia, Kam­la Per­sad Bisses­sar, did.

He added that it took him four days to find out what was tak­ing place re­gard­ing his min­is­ter.

At that point Op­po­si­tion Chief Whip David Lee in­ter­rupt­ed and raised Stand­ing Or­der 48 (1), which speaks to rel­e­vance to the de­bate at hand.

But the PM shot back quick­ly, “sit down!”

Af­ter get­ting af­fir­ma­tion from Deputy Speak­er of the House Es­mond Forde, Row­ley con­tin­ued and ex­pressed how con­fi­dent the Op­po­si­tion Leader was in her in­for­ma­tion.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s ap­petite for rev­e­la­tions seemed un­ful­filled as he went on to say that there was even a point when the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship was in pow­er (2010 -2015) that Mc Don­ald, an at­tor­ney, was of­fered the prospect of be­ing made a Se­nior Coun­sel.

Again Lee raised Stand­ing Or­der 48(1), on­ly this time the Deputy Speak­er urged the Prime Min­is­ter to tie what he was say­ing in­to the bill.

“Mr Deputy Speak­er I have rope, I have twine, I have thread I could tie it.” he said

He ex­plained that he was point­ing out the be­hav­iour of the UNC as they made ac­cu­sa­tions against his Gov­ern­ment and he felt that they are in fact the ones peo­ple should be care­ful with.

“Is be­cause we have cred­i­bil­i­ty that I as leader could have told my col­league you do no such thing and you take no silk from them un­less is a silk twine to hang them­selves.” He added.

Mc Don­ald, the Port-of-Spain South MP, her long-time com­pan­ion Michael Carew, Wayne An­tho­ny, Vic­tor McEachrane and Edgar Zepher­ine have ap­peared be­fore Chief Mag­is­trate Maria Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle in the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trates’ Court to an­swer a to­tal of 49 charges.

Since be­ing charged, Mc­Don­ald has been re­moved as Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Min­is­ter and deputy po­lit­i­cal leader of the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM).

Per­sad Bisses­sar was not in the Cham­ber at the time the Prime Min­is­ter was speak­ing and sev­er­al ef­forts to con­tact her for com­ment up to late yes­ter­day roved fu­tile.

How­ev­er, in re­sponse Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer of the UNC, Ani­ta Haynes said, “Once again Kei­th Row­ley is grasp­ing at straws. With­out a sin­gle achieve­ment to show the peo­ple of T&T, he is re­sort­ing once again to bring­ing patent­ly false claims to the Par­lia­ment in an ef­fort to de­flect at­ten­tion from his in­com­pe­tence and in­abil­i­ty to gov­ern. Re­mem­ber email-gate?” she said.

Reporter: Chester Sambrano