Ex-minister in court on corruption charges
January 13, 2006

Ex-minister in court on corruption charges

by Stephen Cummings

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister Eric Williams has resigned from the government.

The Minister’s resignation follows a financial scandal in which Williams is alleged to have accepted TT$75,000 in bribe money in return for giving government contracts to a local government councilor, Dhansam Dansook, in reference to a seismic project.{{more}}

The incident is alleged to have occurred over three years ago. Williams is one of two government ministers who have now been charged relating to the same matter. The other accused is former Works and Transport Minister, Franklyn Khan, who was charged last year with six counts of accepting bribes. He is now on bail in the sum of TT$250,000 following his arrest.

Local government councilor of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation in south Trinidad, Dansam Dhansook, wrote two letters to Prime Minister Patrick Manning, in which he detailed that he had paid a TT$75,000 bribe to Williams, and a TT$121,500 bribe to former Works and Transport Minister, Khan. The Prime Minister later sent the matter to the Trinidad Integrity Commission for investigations. The Integrity Commission then sent its findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Geoffrey Henderson, who ordered that the two ministers be charged for misconduct in public offices. Both have since maintained their innocence.

Williams surrendered to police on Monday and later appeared before a Port of Spain Magistrate where seven fraud charges were read out to him. He was then granted bail in the sum of TT$600,000. He was shielded by a group of PNM party supporters as he entered and left the court building. With a slight smile on his face he made no comment to reporters and was quickly whisked away by a supportive group into his car.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning is expected to name a new energy Minister soon.