Trinidadian police launch investigation into McDonald

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams

McDonald accused of breaching parliamentary rules

The police have launched a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud and misconduct leveled against former Cabinet minister Marlene McDonald.

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams announced that McDonald, the Port of Spain South Member of Parliament and former minister of housing and urban development, has been accused of breaching parliamentary rules when she hired relatives to work in her constituency office.

McDonald, who was fired on Thursday, had come under intense pressure after the chairman of the non-government organization, Fixin’ T&T, Kirk Waithe, claimed that she had as far back as 2008 abused her ministerial power to facilitate a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) home for her husband, Michael Carew. While the Integrity Commission had investigated the matter and cleared her of the allegation, Waite said he had obtained new information and called on the body to re-open the probe.

Last week, Waithe said he also received information from the Parliament which showed that Carew and a director of the Calabar Foundation was employed at the Housing Minister’s Port-of-Spain South constituency office for five years, while Michael’s brother, Lennox Carew, still worked at the MP’s office. Carew, who worked at the office from June 1, 2010 to September 7, 2015, earned the second highest salary on the constituency payroll for the full parliamentary term. Lennox began working in the office on March 1, 2011, and has been in receipt of the highest salary out of 13 people working in the office. The Parliament pays the salaries of all employees in the 41 constituency offices.

McDonald, who also served as Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs Minister in the Patrick Manning administration, has denied the allegations. McDonald has been replaced by former public administration minister and San Fernando East MP Randall Mitchell.

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