Dr. Keith Rowley, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, has been exonerated. (This word is already correct and does not require any rewriting.) by the Integrity Commission of any misconduct in connection with the acquisition of a townhouse in Tobago, claiming that the investigation into the subject has come to a conclusion.
The Commission stated that Rowley had not intentionally forgotten to declare the purchase, despite the fact that doing so would have violated the Integrity in Public Life Act.
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The government maintained its stance that there were no grounds to believe that the prime minister misrepresented the estimated worth of the townhouse in his Form A declaration of income, assets, and obligations.
Prime Minister Rowley has consistently insisted that filing the required paperwork was lawful, but the Commission has urged him to update his declaration to reflect the reality of his situation.
The opposition leader Saddam Hosein originally complained about the townhouse purchase in December 2021, and the Commission claimed to have done a “meaningful investigation” into the matter.
The Commission responded to a second request for the reopening of its probe by an activist for the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), Ravi Balgobin Maharaj while stating that its initial examination into the case had found no wrongdoing.
In the second lawsuit, filed on August 17, Vishaal Siewsaran, the attorney for Maharaj, disputed the amount Prime Minister Rowley had listed the townhouse’s worth in his disclosure of income and assets made according to the Integrity in Public Life Act.
The legal representative said that the Commission’s initial 18-month probe was “piecemeal,” “biased,” and “incomplete.”
When Prime Minister Rowley and his wife signed the deed for the purchase price of T&T$1.2 million, according to Siewsaran, they would have had to pay stamp duty on that amount, and the lawyer who represented them would have needed to provide a value report to pay the stamp tax.
The attorney stated that the townhouse was valued at $T$T1.68 million and that it was obvious that the BIR (Board of Inland Revenue) grew skeptical of this transaction and so commissioned an independent appraisal from the Valuations Division.
However, the Commission said that it could find “no evidence of any alteration from a lower stamp value to a higher stamp value to raise an inference that there was a change in the circumstances that were so significant that Dr. Rowley had to be made aware of same.”
“Additionally, the commission reiterates that it had no evidence suggesting that Dr Rowley knew of the valuation of the said townhouse unit for stamp duty purposes,” he further added.
“The Commission is compelled to point out that what ought to have been done by the attorney responsible for the transaction and what was done are two distinct matters.
“In this regard, the commission is required to make its decision based on evidence.
“Certainly, Dr Rowley may have been informed of the stamp duty which he was required to pay in the sum of TT$33,500. However, based on the evidence obtained during the course of the commission’s investigation, there was no indication that a valuation report was submitted to the Inland Revenue Division as regards the transaction,” he concluded.