Trinidad sports minister resigns

Sports Minister Anil Roberts has tendered his resignation from the People’s Partnership Government in Trinidad and Tobago following an audit into his TT$400 million Life Sport Program, which has revealed allegations of massive corruption.

Roberts also resigned as Member of Parliament (MP) for his constituency D’Abadie/O’Mera in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the announcement at a post-Cabinet media conference held at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital last Thursday.

She said that she had accepted the resignation of Sports Minister Anil Roberts and has advised the acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith to revoke his appointment with immediate effect as of July 31, 2014.

The pressure has been mounting for some months now and finally it happened – symbolically on the eve of Emancipation Day in Trinidad and Tobago.

Roberts’ resignation brings to 20 the number of persons from the PP administration, who has either lost their ministerial portfolios or senatorial seat over the past four years.

It is a record for any government in Trinidad & Tobago.

Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar in making the announcement said;“I continue to be disillusioned, disappointed and distressed by the level of deception and dishonesty associated with the well intentioned Life Sport program. The background is well known. At the hint of corrupt practices I immediately ordered that the initiative be switched to the Ministry of National Security and instructed an independent audit to be conducted

She said following the findings of the audit she instructed that the report be sent to the commissioner of police, the Integrity Commission, head of the Public Service and the director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Persad-Bissessar said she demonstrated patient allowance for all sides of the story to be heard through an independent audit.

“The election of this government has changed the political landscape. The expectation of the public that something will be done when wrongs are committed in public office, are now the hallmarks of good governance,” she said.

Recently, Roberts said he would resign from the PP government if an audit into the controversial Life Sport program showed that his ministry was funding terrorists, criminal gangs, a militia and a sprawling palace.

The Life Sport program, which was the brainchild of Roberts was founded to keep young men off the streets and away from a life of crime, came under scrutiny by the media after it was reported that a rebel Muslim organization – the Jamaat al Muslimeen- in East Trinidad was controlling a large share of the Sport’s Ministry $113 million allocation for the program.

The audit found in one case an educator collected TT$34 million in two tranches of $17 million but no work done to assist in the education of the men enrolled in the Life Sport Program.

Roberts told the Trinidad Guardian in an interview the following day that he was forced to resign by the PP administration due to the mounting pressure from the public, Opposition and even his own Cabinet colleagues.

He said some of his own colleagues were against him.

Roberts denied that he has done nothing wrong whatsoever, noting that his name had not been mentioned in the audit report.

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