Sunday, March 3, 2013

DPP Gaspard clears Manning, Pena of wrongdoing in Guanapo church matter

Rev. Juliana Pena
The Director of Public Prosecutions has determined that former prime minister Patrick Manning and spiritual adviser Juliana Pena do not have to a case to answer with respect to the Lighthouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Heights of Guanapo, off Arima.

Roger Gaspard issued a media release Friday on the matter, which was one of the major issues raised by the opposition during the 2010 general election. It was alleged that state funds were being used to build the church and that Manning and former UDeCOTT Executive Chairman Calder Hart were involved in the matter.

Gaspard said police have advised that a forensic audit is being undertaken into the matter on behalf of the Integrity Commission and that he would re-visit the matter "if any new and cogent evidence were to be brought to my attention".

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, as Opposition Leader, referred the matter to Gaspard on May 15, 2010, one week before general election. She asked the DPP to innvestigate:
  • whether Manning corruptly or unlawfully interfered in the granting of State Lands and other related approvals to the church or for its construction
  • whether State funds were used for/on in the construction of the church
  • whether Hart corruptly procured the Shanghai Construction Group and others to design and construct the church
  • whether the building constructed at the Heights of Guanapo was initially designed as the Outdoor Stage Project of the Prime Minister's house as part of the Prime Minister's residence and relatedly, whether the cost of the church was factored into the cost of the Prime Minister's residence
Gaspard said he instructed the police to investigate. However police did not interview Manning or Pena "since the police appear not to have any evidence which would afford reasonable grounds for suspecting that they may have committed any offence arising out of this matter", Gaspard said.

"There is no admissible evidence the that the former prime minister played any further role in the matter. Even if he did try to ensure that an application such as this one was not delayed, that is not an offence," Gaspard stated.

Work on the project began on January 21, 2010 and was abandoned after the election.


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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai