Daily Brief - Wednesday 1st February, 2017

NEWS

I Know Nothing About US$2M

Santa Cruz businessman Ricky Ragoonanan last evening made it clear to Newsday that he knows nothing about US$2 million which was found stashed among plyboard in a container at the Port in Pt Lisas last year. He spoke with this reporter hours after he was released by police who earlier yesterday, arrested him and a male relative at Ragoonanan’s businessplace.  At 10am, Ragoonanan and the other relative were detained by a party of officers from the Customs and Excise and the TT Police Service’s Financial Intelligence Bureau (FIB). He was interrogated for several hours at FIB’s office in Port-of-Spain into alleged money laundering, drug smuggling and smuggling of US currency into the country. But speaking with Newsday, Ragoonanan insisted he is being victimised and his name and character dragged through the mud by the State. Ragoonanan, 39, was released from police custody at about 6.30 pm and walked out of the FIB office accompanied by his attorney Gerald Ramdeen. Read more here

Cameras on city wreckers

Motorists who believe they have been towed from authorised parking zones in the capital city can now contest their case and use video footage from the wrecker to support their case. Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez said yesterday that all wreckers authorised by the corporation had been outfitted with cameras. He admitted that there were instances where “the wrecker, in their enthusiasm, may pick up vehicles indiscriminately.” “I am trying to put things in place to ensure that is minimised. We have added cameras to the wreckers so if someone feels their vehicle has been indiscriminately picked up, they can come to the police station and lodge a report. We will look back at the footage and if it is they were aggrieved, we will reimburse them.” The fine for illegal parking in the city is $500. Read more here

Suspect: I don’t know where she went

The man detained for questioning in the disappearance of 26-year-old Nadia Simms told police on Monday night he took the woman to his home on Saturday. The 35-year-old man said Simms spent two hours liming with his relatives at their Siparia home. He then walked her to the main road and placed her in a taxi to go home. The man’s statement led to a lock-down of parts of Quarry Village, Siparia, as the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, Penal CID and K-9 Unit searched the area for Simms. Police said a team of officers went to the man’s Ramdass Trace home around 5 a.m. yesterday and the house was searched but Simms was not found. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Dillon: 130 Trinis in terrorism overseas

Some 130 Trini nationals have left these shores to get involved in terrorist activities in other countries, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon says. “Information at hand reflects about 70 adults and about 58 family members,” he added. Responding to questions from Independent Senator Paul Richards on TT nationals leaving for other countries to engage in terrorist activities, during yesterday’s sitting of the Senate, Dillon said, “In terms of intelligence and information gathering, people would leave (TT) sometimes on a destination not mentioned.” For example, he said, they would leave TT for England and end up in Syria. “So their intended destination is not known to us. Therefore, we rely on international partners to give us the kind of information and intelligence that they (Trinis) are in a terrorist country,” he said. Read more here

Former national security ministers: Yes to guns, pepper spray

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And yes to guns, tasers and pepper spray for citizens, once they are legal. These were the responses of former national security ministers Joseph Toney and Capt Gary Griffith, to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call for citizens to be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves from criminals. Persad-Bissessar, at a press conference Monday, said the time had come to consider allowing women the right to legally use pepper spray and tasers to defend themselves. Toney, former national security minister in a past National Alliance for Reconstruction administration, said, “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I do believe the population now lives in mortal fear of criminals.” Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Improved postal code coming

Public Utilities Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says his ministry is reviewing legislation on more severe penalties for people found guilty of damaging state property or abusing staff of the public utilities and postal service. Hinds said he is currently studying the review before making his recommendations for submission to Cabinet. The minister made the comments as he delivered the feature address at a function at the Arima Town Hall, Sorzano Street, to introduce improvements to the postal code and postal-code implementation projects. The improvement introduced in Arima was the S-42 addressing standard and postal code, a new internationally recognised standard developed by the Universal Postal Union intended to improve TTPost’s mail delivery by improving the quality of addresses across the country. Read more here

Imbert: Let’s discuss retirement age

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said yesterday that increasing the official retirement age to 65 from 60 “is an important matter that requires careful consideration and discussion.” Delivering the feature address at the formal opening ceremony of the new corporate headquarters of the National Insurance Board (NIB), Imbert stressed that pushing back the retirement age was not government policy and that no decision had been taken on the matter. He said though that many countries have opted to push back the retirement age of their populations in order to protect the viability of their national pension schemes. Pointing to the decline in the number of national insurance contributors compared with the number of retirees in the future, Imbert said that in 2013, the actuaries reviewing the national insurance scheme recommended that the Government examine the possibility of pushing back the retirement age to 65 over the period 2025 to 2060. Read more here

Corruption continues unabated

IT is disgraceful that year after year, Trinidad and Tobago is listed among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. In the 2016 edition of the CPI, T&T fell from 72nd to 101st position among 176 countries, scoring 35 points on a scale in which 100 is best, and one worst. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

DPP Rules On Symbiote - Llewellyn, Police Confirm Action But Mum On Pronouncement

The saga involving the Andrew Holness administration and telecoms company Symbiote, which trades as Caricel, has taken another turn with confirmation that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) made a ruling on an aspect of the matter late last year. Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers said the ruling followed a police investigation involving Caricel, which has three licences to operate as a telecommunications provider. The company, however, believes that those licences are threatened as the Government, under United States-led pressure, pursues a probe that could lead to their revocation. This latest probe is coming after the one Chambers said was conducted last year. "Yes, I can confirm that investigations were done. Yes, I can confirm a file was submitted. Yes, I can confirm that a ruling was received from the DPP, but, as it relates to the content, I could not say what it is right now," said the deputy commander at the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch. Read more here

St Lucia consulate in Toronto in disarray

The Saint Lucia consulate in Toronto is currently engaged in damage control over the recent rejection by Canada of the government’s appointed chargé d’affaires, Miline Foster, on the grounds that she is a permanent resident of Canada and thus ineligible for a diplomatic posting. By a memorandum dated November 30, 2016, from Dr Rufina Frederick, permanent secretary, Department of External Affairs, and copied to the prime minister and minister for external affairs Allen Chastanet, Foster was instructed to report for duty at the consul general’s offices in Toronto as the chargé d’affaires with effect from December 1, 2016. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

WH policy director: From campaign hype-man to Oval Office influence

Stephen Miller, President Donald Trump's speechwriter, confidante and the author of his controversial immigration ban, has operated on the fringes of his own political party since he was a teenager. But after what appears to have been a momentous White House policy coming out week, featuring Miller at its center, that's no longer the case. The California native has brought his views on immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness to the President's desk. He's also helped Trump in his mission to disrupt Washington, ruffling feathers with the secretive way in which he helped lead the White House release of its temporary immigration ban from seven Muslim-majority countries late on Friday with little to no input from the government agencies tasked with implementing the vision. Read more here

Briton Ryan Lock 'killed himself' to avoid IS capture

A Briton fighting in Syria "turned the gun on himself" to avoid being taken prisoner by so-called Islamic State, Kurdish sources have told the BBC. Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester in West Sussex, died on 21 December during a battle for the IS group's stronghold of Raqqa. He was fighting as a volunteer with the Kurdish armed fighting forces, the YPG. The YPG told the BBC that "trace of a gunshot wound was found under the chin", suggesting suicide. Sources said five fighters came under siege by IS - also known as ISIS - in the village of Ja'bar, and they showed "considerable resistance" before they were killed. After the bodies were retrieved examinations showed that "it seems that the British fighter committed suicide in order not to fall captive with Isis". A report said the gunshot wound indicated "that the gun made contact with the bottom of the chin". "This suggests that the fighter committed suicide," it concluded. Read more here

 

1st February 2017

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