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Investigation launched into the cheap sale of government assets prior to general elections

The Briceno administration is making good on its promise to have the fire sale of Government assets investigated with a collaboration with the Public Service Union.  Minister of Public Service and Political Reform Henry Charles met earlier today with some members of the union to get the wheels turning on the investigation.  Love News spoke with the First Vice President of the PSU Dean Flowers who briefed us on the discussions had in the 2-hour meeting.

Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: “The meeting was a very cordial meeting. It addressed the request that was made by the Public Service Union for there to be an investigation into the reckless disposal of government assets. I want to express my gratitude on behalf of the Public Service Union to the Prime Minister to having agreed that there ought to be an investigation with the objective not only to make recommendations on the way forward but more importantly to hold people accountable and where possible to see if we can recover any of the people’s assets. The meeting did not go into the specifics of other assets that the new government has discovered that were  fleeced. The meeting focused primarily on setting up a technical committee, I believe the Minister informed that the Ministries that would  be involved with that of course will be the Attorney General’s Ministry, the Ministry of Public Service and representatives from the Ministry of Finance and of course the unions will be a part of that team. And so in terms of what exactly, in terms of the extent of damage that was done where the disposal of assets is concerned we don’t know as yet that would be the task for the committee to uncover and after the audit I can guarantee you we will be reporting back to the Prime Minister of course and to the nation and yourself the media. We do understand the importance for us to not drag on this investigation and that was agreed to by as well the Minister as well and so we were assured that the results of today’s meeting will be presented to Cabinet  next week and thereafter they will receive their directives on the way forward. So in terms of the composition of the committee I believe that by some time next week or within the next two weeks at most I don’t see why it needs to drag on for two weeks but I’m quite sure by sometime next week we will receive a correspondence from the Ministry of Public Service to name our representative as well as find out who will be the representatives from the AG’s Ministry, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Service and that team will be of course then getting together to put together the terms of reference and to hit the ground running. We are cognizant that the longer this matter takes to conclude the risk increase that you may miss certain information or that files could be tampered with or that information can be simply go missing and so there is urgent for us to hit the ground as soon as possible and we realize that and so I don’t see this matter dragging on beyond perhaps the first quarter of next year.”

A few of the vouchers and sales receipts in connection with the cheap sale of government assets have surfaced.  One of the primary signatures seen on the documents are that of Ruperto Vicente who heads the Government Vehicle and Assets Unit.  Love News asked Flowers if he feels that evidence could be tampered with before the committee starts working and if Vicente will be placed on leave in the interim.

Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: “To the best of my knowledge no the assets and utilities manager has not been placed on leave and so to the best of my knowledge I don’t know if he has. It is a concern of course as I said you cannot want to undertake an investigation with the very people who you’ll be investigating to continue being in place but that is a decision for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Service to determine how do we undertake not only this investigation but investigations in other line ministries which a lot of things has gone wrong and while those individuals who facilitated who may not perpetrated the crime but who facilitated the crime remain at their desk you know and there are several ministries that I’m pretty quite sure a lot will be uncovered in.”

Love News is following this story.