Cabinet Not Cancelling Probe on Auditor General

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By Prior Beharry

THE Cabinet is not cancelling the team appointed to investigate how revenue was understated for the financial year 2023.

This was stated by attorneys for the Cabinet in reply to a pre-action protocol letter sent by Freedom Chambers on behalf of Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass who said that she was not taking part in probe chaired by retired High Court Judge Justice David Harris and will include David C. Benjamin, a former Audit Director at the Auditor General’s Department and specialists in Information Technology.

In a letter dated May15, sent by Martin Daly and Partners’ instructing attorney Jo-Anne Julien said she instructs Douglas Mendes, SC, and Simon de la Bastide and was responding to a protocol letter dated May 12, 2024 addressed to the acting Prime Minister  Colm Imbert, setting out the grounds of Ramdass’ proposed claim for judicial review challenging the appointment of an Investigation Team approved by Cabinet.

In its letter, Freedom Chamber stated that the setting up of the investigative team contravenes section 136 of the Constitution to investigate the Auditor General in relation to the conduct of her constitutional and statutory duties.

But, Julien said, “Section 136 of the Constitution provides for the removal of the Auditor General from office by the President of the Republic on the advice of a Tribunal set up by the President under section 136 to enquire into allegations of inability to discharge the functions of office whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause, or for misbehaviour, either at the initiative of the President or upon a representation by the Prime Minister.”

She said the relevant parts of section 136 are limited in prescribing who may make a representation to the President that a tribunal be set up to investigate the question of removing certain officers, including the Auditor General, from office.

Julien added, “They do not provide that any decision to investigate the action and conduct of the person holding the office of Auditor General in relation to the performance of her constitutional/statutory duties, even those which are not concerned with the removal of the person holding the office of Auditor General from that office, may only be made by the President or a Tribunal set up under section 136.”

She said the terms of reference of the investigating team that that it was not being tasked with investigating whether the Auditor General should be removed from office.

Julien said the investigative team is not in any position to make findings of fact which are binding upon any tribunal set up under section 136 or on the President.

She said, “To the extent that the Investigation Team makes any findings with respect to the conduct of the Auditor General the most that might be done is that such findings might be passed on by the Prime Minister to the President for consideration in deciding whether the question of removing the Auditor General should be investigated. 

“Equally, any other individual organisation or entity (such as the press or a non-governmental or other organisation) may carry out their own investigation and report their findings to the President or the Prime Minister.”

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