[Trinidad Express] Former national security minister Jack Warner has admitted he and former deputy commissioner of police Mervyn Richardson were part of a plan to bury the alleged discovery of marijuana at the Phillipine home of the Prime Minister on April 12, 2013.
The Prime Minister was in New York, USA, at the time. Warner also named Gary Griffith, then adviser to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal as being part of the plan to ensure there was no criminal probe into the alleged marijuana discovery.
Richardson, when contacted yesterday morning by the Sunday Express, refused to comment on the allegation made against him by the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader and Chaguanas West MP.
In a statement dated June 6, 2015, submitted to Justice of the Peace Anthony Soulette, who stamped and signed it, Warner outlined how Richardson came to Parliament and told him about the alleged drug find.
Warner’s statement forms part of a dossier of documents and taped conversations he has promised to deliver to selected attorneys for safe keeping to expose corruption in the Government.
Warner is currently on bail and will re-appear at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court on July 9. He has indicated he will be contesting any request by the US to have him extradited to answer charges of racketeering and money laundering.
The indictment against Warner follows four years of investigations by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) authorities into allegations of “rampant and systemic” corruption and rich self-dealing by FIFA officials.
On June 3, the US requested, through Interpol, that Warner and five other officials be placed on “red notice”. Richardson retired from the Police Service in November 2013 and has been retained by the National Operations Centre as its strategic co-ordinator of Multi-Agency Co-ordinating Group. He has had his leave bought out on two occasions by the Government.
While in the Police Service, he headed several high-profile investigations, among them Emailgate.
The Sunday Express asked Richardson yesterday:
Mr Richardson, it is our information that you went to Parliament while it was in process on April 12, 2013, and met with Warner, where you informed him that four ounces of marijuana had been found outside a window of the PM’s Phillipine home.
Richardson: I wouldn’t comment on that.
Sunday Express: Do you recall that happening?
Richardson: I wouldn’t be commenting on those matters.
Sunday Express: Is it that it didn’t happen or you can’t remember?
Richardson: Ms Renne, I said I will not be commenting on those matters.
Sunday Express: Shortly after this discovery, you left the service and were placed in charge of the Rapid Response Unit. Were you part of a cover-up, and this position your payment?
Richardson: Ms Renne, I would not be commenting on those matters. Have a great day.
On Friday evening, the Sunday Express was shown a copy of the police diary entry, which stated 113 grammes of marijuana were found on the Philippine premises around 7 a.m. on April 12, 2013, during a routine patrol.
Warner, in his statement to the JP, said Richardson came to Parliament on April 12, 2013, while a sitting was in progress and they went into a private room at the Parliament.
He said, “The DCP informed me that the PM’s security officers at her residence in Phillipine had found that morning a packet containing 4 ozs of marijuana outside a window of the PM’s Phillipine home, and according to DCP Richardson, based in the amount it can be for the purpose of trafficking”.
Warner said he was told by Richardson that Snr Supt of Special Branch Gary Gould was in charge of the Prime Minister’s detail and he (Richardson) would speak to Gould.
“I immediately called Dr Roodal Moonilal, Leader of Government Business, from the Parliament and asked him how we should deal with this matter,” Warner wrote.
Moonilal advised that the Prime Minister be called and told what occurred since she was in New York at the time, according to Warner.
Warner said he did so and “the PM seemed surprised and said that she should return home immediately and asked whether she should return home and resign”.
“She then spoke with DCP Richardson, who again informed her of what he had told me.
“I prevailed upon her not to resign, but that we (Moonilal, Richardson, Captain Gary Griffith, who had been informed, and I) would use our best efforts to bury it and up to today we did.”
Contacted last Friday by the Sunday Express, Warner said he would not comment at this time, except to say, “I will be revealing more at my meeting on Thursday night. I promised the PM, the gloves are off.”
Countless calls to Persad-Bissessar and Moonilal on Friday and yesterday, as well as several text messages seeking a comment, went unanswered.
The Sunday Express also contacted press officer Francis Joseph, who said he would try to obtain a response from Persad-Bissessar, but up to press time last night there was no response.
The questions posed to the Prime Minister:
Good morning Mrs Persad-Bissessar. I am writing an article for tomorrow’s paper and would like a comment from you. On or around April 2013, four ounces of marijuana were found at your Phillipine home. Can you confirm or deny?
Did Mr Mervyn Richardson have a conversation with you regarding this find?
Special Branch head: Richardson didn’t tell me anything
The Sunday Express contacted Gary Gould yesterday morning. Gould is currently a DCP and also the deputy head at Special Branch.
Asked whether he knew about the find at the Prime Minister’s residence in April 2013, Gould said, “I’m not aware of this.”
Quizzed on whether Richardson relayed this information to him, Gould said no.
Asked whether he was sure Richardson never informed him of the find, given that he (Gould) headed the Special Branch at the time, Gould said, “Something like that, I would have remembered being told to me.”
The Sunday Express asked whether it was mandatory such a report should have come to him. Gould say yes.
Contacted yesterday morning, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said he needed an opportunity to look into the matter.
“I have to look at the records of 2013 and I have no access to those records now. I’m sure if it’s Special Branch, there would be records,” Williams said.
Griffith responds: Ask the police
In an e-mailed response sent yesterday evening, Gary Griffith refused to confirm or deny he was privy to the alleged incident.
He instead told the Sunday Express to check with the police.
He said when he operated as a minister of National Security, “I am obliged to still stress that it would be inappropriate to make any statement on any such allegation.
“Based on this report, it would be the police who should comment on this allegation. Having said that, let me make it abundantly clear it is impossible for any Government official to give any police officer an order to cover up any matter that warrants a police investigation or a possible charge for someone committing a criminal offence. They have no authority to do so.
“The Police Service comes under the Ministry of National Security for administration, policy and logistics support services.
“It is not in any remote way under the authority of Government officials, inclusive of National Security, National Security Council or Office of the Prime Minister, for operational purposes, which includes investigations and reporting a crime.
“For any further information reference the above, the T&T Police Service is the best avenue to answer any further questions.”