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Harry demands copy of tape

Saturday, August 18, 2018
Harry Ragoonanan

The People’s National Movement (PNM) disciplinary committee read out three charges of alleged corruption and bribery involving the procurement of Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) buses to suspended member Harry Ragoonanan on Thursday.

Ragoonanan said the charges were read out to him by the committee chaired by Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain.

It was the first time Ragoonanan had appeared before the committee with his attorney Mario Merritt since being suspended by the party last October.

On Monday, acting Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds said the PNM had received information and a complaint from a citizen “about a most untoward conversation that was electronically recorded between Mr Ragoonanan and a bus supplier to the PTSC.”

Hinds said he found the contents of the June 1, 2016 recording to be “troubling” and the party had invited Ragoonanan before its disciplinary committee to defend himself.

Communications Minister Stuart Young also described the recording as “most troubling and suggestions of corrupt practices and behaviour with respect to procurement at PTSC.”

Appearing before the committee, Ragoonanan said, “They told me I was guilty on three counts of trying to influence people with respect to a bus tender and to give a defence. I told them I never tendered for any buses, and in any case, I was not prepared to argue anything until I get full disclosure of everything that they have.”

Ragoonanan said the committee said they were not willing to reopen their investigation and could not provide the full disclosure he had requested.

“They said they would have to meet as a committee and decide what they can give me. The laws of justice demand that I be given full disclosure. The committee would have to produce that evidence (tape) now. Then we would have to cross-examine the so-called whistleblower…that man from China on the tape. We would want him to appear before the committee to give evidence.”

Ragoonanan said he felt the committee wanted him to cave in and say he was sorry.

“I suspected that if I had done that they would have expelled me from the party there and then. That I feel was the plan. I am awaiting their feedback.”

—Shaliza Hassanali


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