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UNC scrutinises Proceeds of Crime Act legislation

UNC scrutinises Proceeds of Crime Act legislation

UNC par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have been scru­ti­n­is­ing Sec­tion 51 of the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act (POCA) which stip­u­lates it’s an of­fence to tip off a per­son in an in­tend­ed or on-go­ing po­lice probe on mon­ey laun­der­ing mat­ters, UNC deputy leader David Lee has con­firmed.

Carmelo De Grazia

This, af­ter Lee said At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi—in cross-talk be­fore Par­lia­ment start­ed last Fri­day—warned the Op­po­si­tion that Sec­tion 51 could be “trou­ble for them.”

This fol­lowed the Prime Min­is­ter’s re­cent rev­e­la­tion that Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad- Bisses­sar tipped off em­bat­tled PNM MP Mar­lene Mc­Don­ald about po­lice ac­tion against her.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

Mc­Don­ald con­firmed Per­sad-Bisses­sar had called her four or five weeks be­fore she (Mc­Don­ald) was ar­rest­ed to tell her she’d be locked up. Mc­Don­ald said she sub­se­quent­ly called Al-Rawi and Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young about it. Al-Rawi con­firmed she called him, and al­so on Au­gust 8 when po­lice searched her house. Mc­Don­ald faces sev­en al­leged cor­rup­tion charges in­clud­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing

Fol­low­ing the claims, Per­sad- Bisses­sar hasn’t been avail­able for ques­tions or spo­ken on the is­sue. A man who an­swered her phone yes­ter­day said she wasn’t avail­able

Last Fri­day, Lee said she was ab­sent from that day’s Par­lia­ment be­cause she had the virus. But he’d said Al-Rawi, in cross stalk with UNC’s Su­ruj Ram­bachan—be­fore the sit­ting be­gan, had said Sec­tion 51 could be “big trou­ble” for the Op­po­si­tion. Ram­bachan al­so con­firmed Al-Rawi spoke about it

Then we start­ed to check it (Sec­tion 51) out,” Lee added

Sec­tion 51 of POCA has six claus­es in­clud­ing that a per­son com­mits an of­fence if (a) he knows or sus­pects that a po­lice of­fi­cer is act­ing, or is propos­ing to act, in con­nec­tion with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion which is be­ing, or is about to be, con­duct­ed in­to mon­ey laun­der­ing; and (b) he dis­clos­es to any oth­er per­son in­for­ma­tion or any oth­er mat­ter which is like­ly to prej­u­dice that in­ves­ti­ga­tion, or pro­posed in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Al-Rawi didn’t re­ply yes­ter­day. Lee said he wasn’t a lawyer, didn’t see an is­sue with the law and couldn’t say if any­one might try to use that against Per­sad-Bisses­sar

Lee added, “We MPs are al­ways ban­ter­ing. How many times have the Gov­ern­ment said peo­ple were com­ing to lock us up? Plan­ning Min­is­ter Camille Robin­son-Reg­is in 2017 read out a search war­rant on UNC’s Roodal Mooni­lal yet noth­ing’s hap­pened.”

In last Sat­ur­day’s po­lit­i­cal col­umn top po­lice sources said if Mc­Don­ald’s claim was true, a crim­i­nal of­fence could arise. Since ca­su­al ban­ter didn’t meet POCA’s thresh­old, they added, ques­tions need to be an­swered “ahead” – which they main­tained yes­ter­day.

UNC of­fi­cials couldn’t say if Per­sad-Bisses­sar who is a Se­nior Coun­sel, might at­tend to­day’s open­ing of the law term— a func­tion she usu­al­ly at­tends. She’s un­like­ly to at­tend the fu­ner­al of for­mer Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Lin­da Bab­hoolal this morn­ing since UNC’s Wade Mark and MP Tim Gopeesingh are rep­re­sent­ing the Op­po­si­tion, they said

Lee said there’s no UNC Mon­day night fo­rum tonight since this is held every oth­er week and there was one last week. The next fo­rum will be next Mon­day in Diego Mar­tin.

How­ev­er, the UNC has a Pave­ment Re­port meet­ing on Wednes­day in Moru­ga. Will she at­tend that meet­ing where MPs alone are usu­al­ly the speak­ers? “You might be sur­prised…” Lee replied

How­ev­er, Per­sad-Bisses­sar may show up at Par­lia­ment on Fri­day be­cause her pri­vate mo­tion call­ing for a de­bate to re­peal the Sedi­tion Act is ex­pect­ed to de­but on Par­lia­ment’s agen­da.

If so, Lee said Per­sad-Bisses­sar will have to de­liv­er a five-minute ad­dress ex­plain­ing why the mo­tion should be con­sid­ered and the House will have to vote on this. Gov­ern­ment has House ma­jor­i­ty

Lee said he ex­pect­ed the mat­ter to arise par­tic­u­lar­ly since Fri­day’s sit­ting may be the last for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the cur­rent fourth ses­sion of Par­lia­ment.

Even if the mat­ter is ap­proved for de­bate it may fall by the way­side since bills and oth­er mat­ters lapse when ses­sions change un­less ap­proved to be car­ried in­to the next term. “So if I was Gov­ern­ment I’d have ap­proved it for de­bate, just to show they’re se­ri­ous about be­ing open to ‘re­view’ the bill,” Lee said

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said they had so far seen no pro­posed al­ter­na­tives to the Sedi­tion Bill. They said Fri­day’s agen­da fo­cus­es on a na­tion­al sav­ings bond for hous­ing which will have to be de­bat­ed in Sen­ate af­ter. The ses­sion must pro­rogue by Sep­tem­ber 28 for the fifth and fi­nal ses­sion to be­gin af­ter; like­ly by the start of Oc­to­ber since the 2020 Bud­get is be­ing de­liv­ered Oc­to­ber 7