It all went down in room 201 in May.
Sports Minister Anil Roberts was allegedly caught on tape rolling what appeared to be a spliff as he partied with a young woman, video cameraman and friends.
“They call me the ‘two-pull man’,” he quipped.
When the footage became public, Roberts denied it was him.
Two months later, he was embroiled in scandal again, this time with the Life Sport programme.
In July, the Central Audit Committee (CAC) released a report into the programme which was managed by the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT). Life Sport was created to help at-risk young men between the ages of 16-25 and was being run in 43 centres throughout T&T. The programme was launched in June 2012 and officially started in August 2012.
The CAC report unearthed fraudulent activity, theft, questionable payments, alleged criminal infiltration and other criminal activities. In May, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar ordered the programme moved from under the Sports Ministry to the National Security Ministry led by Gary Griffith. She also called for the audit.
Griffith unearthed improprieties including the payment of some $18 million to Life Sport Carapo coordinator Rajaee Ali, a Jamaat al-Muslimeen member.
As a result, there was a threat to expel the Carapo segment of the programme. After this announcement, some officials were reportedly put on a hit list; Ruth Marchan, the deputy director of Physical Education and Sport at the Ministry of Sport; Curtis “Tallman” Gibson; Life Sport director Cornelius Price and two other Sport Ministry officials.
Marchan was placed in the police protection programme and hired Gibson to be her bodyguard. He was murdered days after reporting death threats.
Rajae Ali’s appointment as a coordinator in the programme was particularly interesting as he was known to police.
Ali was arrested and charged in 2004 for the murder of Hayden Sin-Clair Douglas. In 2007 he was among three men who escaped the Golden Grove Prison and were considered armed and dangerous. In 2011 the case was dismissed as the witnesses either recanted their stories, were dismissed or killed and in 2012 he was hired for Life Sport. In 2015 Ali was among 11 arrested for the murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.
Millions of dollars was squandered at Life Sport as there were reports of ghost participants and at least four ghost companies, one of which received $34 million with no work done.
Roberts tendered his resignation as Sports Minister on July 31, 2014 after mounting pressure against him.
Meanwhile, in 2016, a High Court Judge quashed the 2014 audit report. Justice Mira Dean-Armorer in an oral ruling in the Port-of-Spain High Court ruled that the former Sport Ministry permanent secretary Ashwin Creed and several LifeSport officials including Sport Minister Anil Roberts were not given an opportunity to be heard before the final report was completed and made public in Parliament by then former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Author: Dareece Polo
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