– Carl Greenidge
Just when it was thought that the Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall’s admission of misusing state funds was a grave enough injury to the current administration’s integrity, an insult of similar nature was on its way.
The insult is in the form of the Attorney General’s claims that his actions were legal and approved by Cabinet.
This view was posited by A Partnership for National Unity’s Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge, who said that the fact that the AG could drag the Cabinet into his “dirty misgivings, only goes to show that Cabinet too is guilty of aiding in covering up Nandlall’s financial impropriety.”
Greenidge pointed to a part of the despicable 19-minute profanity laced recorded conversation between, Nandlall and Kaieteur News reporter Leonard Gildharie.
In the recorded conversation, Nandlall said that he “used money from the government… and pay back long before” Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall “made an issue of it.”
However, in a statement released by a public relations consultant on Nandlall’s behalf, the Minister said, “I wish to set the record straight …the reference relates to the reimbursement I received for monies I expended on medical treatment. This reimbursement was approved by Cabinet in a written Cabinet decision dated 20 June 2013.
“This is, and historically has been, an entitlement of every member of Cabinet long before my appointment.”
In light of the comparison made between the statement and Nandlall’s despicable recording, Greenidge said that, “As far as I understand, Ministers are only supposed to get an additional grant for monies in the case of medical emergencies which is going to be in addition to what they get from NIS. I don’t believe that it is even safe for one to consider that an entitlement. The fact that no member of Cabinet has spoken about this is an indication that they are aiding him in covering up a financial crime.”
The APNU Parliamentarian also stated that as far as his understanding of Nandlall’s circumstances is concerned, “what he took the money for constituted to no emergency. And in light of that glaring fact, Cabinet should not have been allowing him to use its chambers as some place to seek refuge when he has committed an illegality. But it is clear though, the government’s blue-eyed-boy has been caught. He confessed to misusing funds and as such they are aiding him in covering up the impropriety. That is clear when you do the comparison.”
As it relates to Nandlall’s contention that the money was an entitlement, he said that this is very “confusing.” He said that if the reimbursement was an entitlement to begin with, then Cabinet’s approval would not have been needed in the first place.
The former Finance Minister made the point that an entitlement just requires one to provide the relevant documents or filling of a form, and technical officers will take care of the rest.
“He is clearly confusing himself and trying to confuse the public,” the financial expert emphasized.
Regardless of what the Minister of Legal Affairs is contending, Greenidge said that a financial irregularity has occurred and it is one which attracts punishment and as such, Nandlall should be made to feel the full extent of the law.
“His statement and the confusion it causes should be rejected,” The APNU member asserted.
In support of Greenidge’s position, Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan stated that the AG would have to prove under what circumstances or basis the money was granted.
Ramjattan noted that he was not aware that the Cabinet members are privileged to such an entitlement. He too agreed with Greenidge on the point that the Attorney General has contradicted himself. “I mean, how you could say that you are entitled to something, and in the recording you said that you took money and then repaid it? If it was an entitlement, then how come your conscience forced you to pay it back before you were exposed by the Kaieteur News? Clearly he contradicted himself,” the AFC Parliamentarian stated.
In an interview with this publication, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds had said that he would not call the monies approved for certain emergencies as an entitlement. The Prime Minister had disclosed that such discretion by Cabinet “is not something that is automatic. It is something that would require much review.”
APNU’s General Secretary, Joseph Harmon, at the coalition’s press conference last week, told media operatives that there are many parts of the infamous recorded conversation that APNU has not touched as yet.
Harmon had emphasized that the money Nandlall said he took was not approved by the Parliament for any such reason. The politician had said that this indicates that such a transaction is a “callous betrayal of the citizens’ trust and the fair way in which state resources are supposed to be allocated.”
Vice Chairman of the AFC, Moses Nagamootoo, in a letter to the Editor said that he had found Nandlall’s admission that he had accessed and used government’s money for a personal purpose, which he claimed that he has since repaid, to be most disgusting.
Nagamootoo had lent much support to APNU’s intention to launch an investigation into the financial indiscretion. The Parliamentarian had said that the behaviour of the country’s Attorney General raises eyebrows.
He had said that an investigation into that transaction ought to take place now.
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