It took a statement this week from the Integrity Commission (IC) to officially inform Grenadians that the much-talked about investigation into alleged corruption and wrongdoing at the state-owned Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) had been completed two years after it first came to light.
THE NEW TODAY had always voiced opposition to the manner in which the so-called investigation by the IC, under the guidance of female attorney-at-law, Guyana-born Anande Trotman-Joseph, the wife of a high-up official in the ruling New National Party (NNP) government had taken over the investigation.
The administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had initially sent signals that the MNIB probe would be conducted in the usual open and public manner under the designated laws of Grenada but suddenly the Integrity Commission stepped in and suddenly told the nation differently.
Our suspicion was that the decision of the IC to hold a private behind the door investigation had a hidden agenda and raised alarm bells that something was in the making to control the flow of information from a statutory body in which the main players are all part of the ruling NNP Cabal.
The outgoing Chairman of the MNIB Board of Directors, Samuel Andrew and his replacement, Sen. Christopher DeAllie, as well as the controversial Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ruel Edwards were all known operatives within the NNP machinery at the time of the unfolding of the happenings at the state body.
Mr. Edwards was once considered as a possible candidate for the NNP in St George North-east but was overlooked in favour of current Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement for the 2013 general elections as party members considered him to be “too aloof” and not on the ground with the people.
In addition, the late father of the former MNIB CEO was a known political activist of the ruling party and had cultivated close political relations with Prime Minister Mitchell.
This MNIB Inquiry was very similar to the so-called Briefcase investigation that was conducted by Barbadian jurist, Sir Richard Cheltenham following reports that Dr. Mitchell had collected a bribe payment of US$500, 000.00 from convicted fraudster Eric Resteiner in St Moritz, Switzerland in exchange for an ambassadorial position and diplomatic posting.
The information coming out is that just like Dr. Mitchell, the principal figure in the Briefcase scandal was never interrogated by the Cheltenham Group, so too it appears with Ruel Edwards in the probe by the Trotman-Joseph commission.
It is our information that most of the questionable events at the MNIB surrounded the CEO and it is mind-boggling that the IC failed to question him on any of the suspicious activities.
THE NEW TODAY is calling on the head of the Integrity Commission to present herself to the media for questioning on the so-called MNIB investigation in the same manner in which she was prepared to come public and announce that it was taking over the investigation.
It is not good enough to issue a press release to inform the nation that a report from their findings has been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for any possible follow up action.
Prime Minister Mitchell came public and made certain statements about wrongdoing at MNIB by persons and dropped enough hints that a former Grenada Ambassador with close ties to his regime was also linked to activities within the state body.
Did the Anande Trotman-set up team of investigators interview the Prime Minister on his role in the MNIB saga?
This is all the more important in light of public statements made by former Chairman, Samuel Andrew that he had tried on numerous occasions and without success to get an appointment with the Prime Minister to brief him on unsavoury developments at the state enterprise especially surrounding financial matters?
Did Dr. Mitchell as the then line minister for MNIB abdicated his responsibility and duties and demonstrated nothing but poor leadership?
The people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique are being short-changed by this so-called Integrity Commission which has no teeth but is being used by the NNP to continue its stranglehold on the nation and to help cover-up things that manage to get into the public domain.
The body is toothless and cannot mount any serious investigation into wrongdoing by public sector employees and public entities as another body that is enshrined in the Grenada Constitution known as the Public Service Commission (PSC).
A grave injustice was done by the PSC with respect to the Fabian Purcell affair at the Physical Planning Unit (PPU) in a matter relating to the failed shrimp farm project in Victoria, St. Mark.
Mr. Purcell admitted that he collected money for doing work for the operators of the Shrimp farm without seeking permission from the commission, and also did not pay any duties to the State from the monies collected and all he got was a little slap on the wrist and sent to work in another ministry.
Is it any wonder that our Prime Minister did finally admit that the system has been broken in Grenada under his leadership of the country for nearly 30 years?
As one prominent Grenadian asked a few days ago – Are we to believe that the person who has presided over the degradation of social and economic conditions for most of our people, the man who believes that projects are synonymous with development, who has been selling out the country to questionable characters, who has ensured that his family and friends benefit financially while the vast majority of our people suffer, has now, after 2 generations in politics and with plans to retire in 5 years, finally decided that he needs to work on a plan for improving the lives of the people of Grenada?”
This sham of an investigation carried out by Anande Trotman-Joseph and her Integrity Commission is lacking any integrity and only gives further proof to those who believe that the NNP intends to maintain its hegemony and control on every aspect of life in the tri-island State.
Sadly, the Integrity Commission and PSC have turned out to be nothing more than key instruments in the push by the ruling party to turn Grenada effectively into a one-party state.