T&T govt minister and husband arrested

Minister of Public Administration Marlene McDonald

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Police in Trinidad and Tobago are still questioning Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald and her husband, Michael Carew, in an investigation into corruption allegations after members of the Fraud Squad searched their home and arresting them last Thursday.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) said in a statement that enquiries are ongoing and more information will be provided when it becomes available.

But media reports indicate it is in connection with misuse of State funds, stemming from the alleged siphoning of more than TT$1 million (US$147,650) from a government ministry to three organizations linked to McDdonald’s family and friends.

The minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Port of Spain South, was twice fired from the Cabinet under controversial circumstances. The first was in 2016 when she was Housing Minister, after her alleged recommendation of public housing for Carew. She returned to the Cabinet a year later as Minister in the Ministry of Public Utilities. But less than 48 hours after, she was fired again, on the heels of a controversy caused by the presence of a reputed community leader at her swearing-in ceremony.

McDonald subsequently served as minister in the Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, before being appointed Minister of Public Administration last year.

The main opposition United National Congress (UNC), in a statement issued after her arrest described the development as “alarming”.

“We live in a country where the rule of law obtains, and every citizen is entitled to due process, justice and fair play. However, the fact that a sitting PNM government minister is under active investigation over claims of misappropriation of public funds and is now being questioned by the police, is alarming,” it said, adding that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley needed to make a statement on “this serious matter”.

“But once again Dr Keith Rowley’s poor leadership is highlighted given that he has on two separate occasions removed Ms McDonald, and reinstated her in his Cabinet.”

The Congress of the People (COP), meantime, issued a statement expressing support for police in its fight against corruption.