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Probe into leaked audio, the identity of speakers, and possible breach of law…

Martin George & Company > Newspaper Articles  > Probe into leaked audio, the identity of speakers, and possible breach of law…

Probe into leaked audio, the identity of speakers, and possible breach of law…

ACP to probe leaked audio Police team looks into the identity of speakers, possible breach of law…

Probe into leaked audio ACP Wendell Lucas

Assistant Commissioner of Police Wendell Lucas has been appointed to investigate a leaked audio recording allegedly involving Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and another member.

This was confirmed yesterday by Deputy Commissioner of Police Curt Simon while speaking with the Express.

Simon indicated that Lucas, who is the head of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s (TTPS) White Collar Crime Division, was tasked with investigating the recording on Wednesday—the same day that THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris and political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) Watson Duke issued a strong warning to the THA Chief Secretary.

The message was “Stop trying to take Tobagonians for fools”.

“ACP Lucas will be spearheading a team that will be looking at unearthing any evidence that may suggest or may prove, in some way or the other, if there is any breach of criminal law in connection with the recording which has been shared.

“So they will be examining its contents to determine what laws may have been broken, and also trying to positively identify any person or persons that may have utterances, as well as the time frame in which any purported breaches of law may have occurred,” Simon said.

While Simon was unable to say what laws may have been broken as the investigation had just started, Morris said on Wednesday that he recently received a package of documents which showed that a man who said he was a pensioner had purportedly filed a four-page complaint with the Integrity Commission about the matter.

He said the man, after listening to the audio over 100 times, claimed to have recognised the voices of the two people in the recording, and had asked the commission to probe if any laws under the Integrity in Public Life Act were breached.

He said he planned to write to the Integrity Commission, through his attorneys, to confirm whether the commission had received such a complaint and to call for the matter to be treated with urgency.

Morris said he also planned to file a motion of no confidence in Augustine at the earliest time in the assembly.

What laws

could be broken

Speaking with the Express yesterday, attorney and Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George said the only laws he could see being broken as a result of the audio clips were possibly misbehavior in public office, and possibly conspi­racy to defraud or to misuse public funds.

“As it stands, the audio clip by itself may not be enough to say defi­nitively that laws have been broken. First, the individuals would have to be identified. Then, questions of what was discussed and the intent would have to be raised. Because it can simply be a discussion or a plan.

“Maybe it could be raised to a level of conspiracy, depending on what other evidence the police may have in their possession or unearth during the course of their investigation.

“But to me, it would be premature at this stage to even consider the question of a breach of laws simply by what was said on the recording, if there exists no corollary evidence to show that these things were in fact done or were in the process of being executed.

“Naturally, persons in such office would have the responsibility and accountability to the public purse and duty not to misuse or abuse public funds for private or political gain.

“But I am not sure if police intervention at this stage is likely to yield much, unless, of course, as I said earlier, they have some other evidence in their possession to tie into the alleged voice notes that two actual human beings have committed any of the activities alleged,” George said.

He also expressed concern that it was public informa­tion that a police investi­gation had been launched into the matter.

“I would also like to say that by this mention of police intervention, it gives several persons the perfect way out, not to discuss the matter at all and clear the air on what may have actually transpired. Because now persons can hide under the cloak of legal privilege and say that the matter is under police investigation, so they will not comment on it further.

“So, to me, it is unfortunate and inopportune for them to launch an investigation into it and have it been known so publicly. And since we don’t know where it is going, it may be a fishing expedition. Because as it stands, and I say this respectfully, on the information available publicly, I see very little merit in a police investigation at this point unless there is other corroborating evidence which the TTPS already has in its possession,” George said.

Farley: I set my

own agenda

At a district town hall meeting at the Tobago Fairfield Complex on Tuesday night, two residents called for answers.

Responding, Augustine said many people in the media wanted him to talk on their time.

“That’s one thing I don’t do. I set my own agenda. The media doesn’t set my agenda,” he said. “And I can tell you, this is more than just an audiotape and involves some security considerations, extremely serious at that, that requires me as leader to ensure I spend enough time mulling over it.”

Augustine said by the end of this week, he will speak extensively on the matter, and when he does, he and the THA executive will be “properly exonerated”.

He said when he makes his statements, everyone would not be happy, and “it may bring some houses down on some people”.

He went on: “You see, if I was in the minority or if I was in another place, I done talk long time. I probably cuss everybody and ask for forgiveness and move on with my life, long time.

“But one of the things I’ve had to learn in this position is to measure my steps, to count my words, to think of the fact that you can be right and disastrous at the same time. In other words, there are some things I could say, even tonight, that I will be in my right to say, that I have knowledge of, that I should perhaps say, (but) I have to measure whether or not it’s in the larger public good to say.”

What was said in

the recording

In the audio recording, a male voice resembling that of THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is heard suggesting that a plan or strategy be found and created and brought for approval.

“If you have 13 people now, you might just need five or seven to do strict PR (public relations), you could use some to do some propaganda. Whether they’re going to use fake profiles, whatever they do. What you will have to consider is finding a way to employ people on the THA side. It could be menial tasks,” he said.

The man said most of the people were already employed.

A woman agreed, saying most of them had found a way to “Shinelle”.

“So it’s the others who are not employed, to bring them in. Because they are happy to do the thing on the side voluntarily, once we employ them eight to four in a lucrative way,” she said.

“So they get an income?” the man asked, to which the woman responded “yes”.

Noting the “challenges”, the woman raised the issue about how Tobagonians were responding to the “moves in Trinidad”, the man said the plan could help “in shaping the narrative”.

“I don’t want us to stop campaigning and then switch it back…,” he started saying before the recording abruptly ended.

ACP to probe leaked audio Police team looks into the identity of speakers, possible breach of law…

By: Alexander Bruzual

Express Newspaper Trinidad and Tobago

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