Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald will face as many as seven criminal charges, including misbehaviour in public office, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard gave the police advice shortly before 11 pm to charge McDonald, her companion, Michael Carew, the former chairman of the National Self-Help Commission Edgar Zephyrine and two contractors – Wayne Anthony and Victor McEachrane- with several charges arising out the disbursement of state funds from the Ministry of Community Development and Culture to help at risk youth.
Over a $1 M was disbursed to the Calabar Foundation, a non-profit organisation in which McDonald’s husband is a director, and two other entities. McEachrane is also a director of the Calabar Foundation.
McDonald is the only one who will be charged with misbehaviour in public office.
The charges came after a six-year-long investigation by the police. Snr Supt Totaram Dookhie, of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB), who lead the probe. The Integrity Commission had dismissed the complaints previously.
Sources said police investigators were able to follow the money which ended up in private bank accounts of individuals.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who had been waiting on the decision of the police will likely revoke McDonald’s appointment on Monday and replace her with another minister.
McDonald, a powerhouse on the PNM platform and in Parliament, has served as the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Port-of-Spain South for 12 years. She is also a deputy political leader of the ruling PNM.
Her affiliation with reputed Sea Lots gang leader caused her to be fired by Rowley in 2017 and she had been fired once before for giving Carew a house while she served as Housing Minister in 2016.
Senior police sources told Guardian Media it may take several hours to write the charges, and, therefore, the accused may not be charged until early Monday morning. They also said there will be a separate charge for every withdrawal of ill-gotten gains.
Officers of the PSB swooped down on McDonald’s home at Valley View, Maracas, St Joseph on Thursday morning, where they executed a search warrant and took away several items.
McDonald and her husband have been in custody since then. Zephyrine was arrested in Tobago on Friday and the two other men were held that same day. Both McDonald and Carew co-operated with police investigators during their interviews.