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Kamla Wants FIU Chief Out As Gary Wins Case

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar has called for the resignation of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (FIU) director Nigel Stoddard.

She said she and all right-minded citizens are ‘anxiously awaiting’ Stoddard’s resignation after his ‘arbitrary and unjustified action’ was exposed by a High Court judge.

In a media release yesterday, the former prime minister stated that, if Stoddard refuses to vacate his office, the Public Service Commission must have him removed under applicable provisions of the relevant legislation.

On September 11, 2023, Justice Devindra Rampersad ruled that the FIU had abused its power and acted unconstitutionally when it attempted to access the private banking information of former police commissioner G Gffih dh f Gary Griffith and his wife, Nicole Dyer-Griffith, from several banks.

Persad-Bissessar said Stoddard’s actions amounted to a ‘blatant abuse of power by the FIU’ and he must step down.

‘The FIU director has lost all legitimacy and the moral authority to oversee the financial integrity of anyone and must be replaced as head of this sensitive and important national institution,’ said Persad-Bissessar.

‘It is my respectful view that the legal overreach and misuse of his authority make Mr Stoddard subject to accusations of malfeasance in public office and, as such, diminishes the integrity of the office once he continues to hold the office,’ she added.

Persad-Bissessar said this is ‘highly regrettable’ not only because of the critical functions of the FIU but also since the director was ‘hyped’ as being suitably qualified for the post, upon his appointment in 2019.

She said the FIU now follows a number of significant impartial and neutral organisations that have become tools of the ‘dictatorial and repressive’ Rowley Government and its ‘PNM cohorts’.

Griffith: Political motives Griffith also issued a media release noting that he learnt of the FIU’s actions in its attempt to access his personal banking information from a whistleblower.

‘I was fortunate, perhaps because of my former position, to have whistleblowers share information with me. But this abuse of power could be targeted against anyone, including persons close to and aligned with this present Government,’ he said.

Griffith cited several matters which he said were attempts by the Keith Rowley-led Government to compromise independent institutions.

He also referenced the controversy surrounding the Police Service Commission merit list which prevented his return as top cop.

‘The FIU’s attempt to access my wife’s and my bank accounts, along with several others, occurred without any suspicion of our involvement in a crime, being under investigation, or having any transactions flagged. This action blatantly violates the regulations that govern the FIU,’ he said.

‘By itself, it can be seen as ‘just’ an abuse of power by a FIU director, who some may speculate is beholden to those who appointed him, but it is clear from the facts listed below that our country has descended into dictatorship,’ stated Griffith.

He said the FIU abusing its authority in an attempt to access citizens’ bank accounts, without any red flags, no evidence, and no reason to do so, suggests the motives were political. 

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