In a 2013 article, around the time of the Emailgate scandal, columnist and political analyst Selwyn Ryan made a few comments that resonated powerfully with Jack Warner’s press conference last week on July 14th.
Back then Ryan alluded to the power and importance of the political financier, not just to political parties, but to governments. And he explored several ways to approach campaign finance reform. He also warned us about the various typesof financiers. And I want to focus on that a bit here. According to Ryan, financiers range from the party members; to well wishers; or businessmen from new industries; even other friendly governments who wish to see pursue interests and investments here and so need a stable environment; and, apart from these sources, big contractors, narco-traffickers and money launderers. Ryan boldly stated in that think-piece that Section 34 was “directly related to funding for elections”.
Two years later we have corroboration from a most unlikely source. Austin Jack Warner – former chairman of the United National Congress, former Minister of Works and former Minister of National Security, the same Jack Warner who scoffed at the Section 34 crowd of marchers and claimed he saw only one ethnicity represented at the march – swore to an affidavit that implies there was a conspiracy linked to Section 34 after all. Among other
things Warner tells us that:
1. As chairman and financier of the party, he was
present and privy to meetings and deals between Persad-Bissessar and other
2. He identified those financiers as Galbaransingh and Ferguson. The same two men
linked to the Piarco Airport scandal locally and money laundering charges in the United States.
3. These gentlemen, Warner alleges, met with Persad-Bissessar at the house of a Mr Gopaul and handed over cheques days before elections 2010. Gopaul was identified as a friend of this administration within the first month of the People’s Partnership taking office and featured prominently in a scandal surrounding a Petrotrin contract worth $40m.
4. Mere days later a plot is hatched to split the Ministry of Legal Affairs in two. Creating another ministry, the Ministry of Justice, whose main mandate is criminal justice. This ministry will be overseen by a former Judge. A man intimately
familiar with court administration. A man who eventually brings to Parliament a Bill that sought to re-engineer our criminal justice system. A re-engineering that if declared at the right time would have had implications for Messieurs Galbaransingh and Ferguson ever facing the courts here.
Isn’t it rather ironic that just under three years after trolling the marchers of Section 34, Jack Warner is now suggesting
to the nation that yes, there may well have been a conspiracy behind that Bill; and he was privy to the details all along?
Further, if the details of Warner’s affidavit are true, isn’t it troubling that two men – two financiers – have enough clout to
get our Constitution amended to suit them? This begs the further question, are we going to give campaign finance reform the attention it deserves? Do we still think that plum contracts and overnight millionaires are all that is at stake