Speaking at the United National Congress’ (UNC) Monday Night Forum at the Tableland Secondary School on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar said there were rumours and allegations that the steel giant funded Al Wari’s campaign in 2015.
ArcelorMittal announced that it would be closing its doors and sending home close 644 workers just over a month ago. The decision came just a day after the Industrial Court ordered Arcelor Mittal to pay monies to employees who were fired, without any dialogue with their union.
Persad-Bissessar accused the PNM Government of doing nothing to ensure that the laid-off workers receive some form of assistance suggesting that the reason for this was that government may have been in bed with the company.
The Opposition leader questioned whether the company did in fact finance Al-Rawi’s election campaign. She asked, “Did you charge them exorbitant legal fees to disguise any financial assistance? And I’m only asking questions, so don’t get on your high horse and blow hot and cold. Answer the questions.”
Persad-Bissessar warned that if the Opposition was not provided with clean, clear-cut answers in the near future, it is prepared to take the matter to the Integrity Commission for consideration and determination.
Persad-Bissessar also claims that Law Association President Reginald Armour SC was also legal advisor to ArcelorMittal.
She questioned if Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was aware that Armour, his former personal lawyer, also served as the company’s legal advisor and questioned the attorney’s possible involvement in ArcelorMittal’s closure and firing of its workers.
The Opposition leader said it needed to be made clear whether the company helped to play a role in the financing of the People’s National Movement’s election campaign.
But speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Al Rawi admitted that he and his junior minister both served as lawyers for ArcelorMittal.
However, he said, they recused themselves upon assuming office.
While he could not give a specific date as to when he stopped working for the ArcelorMittal, he said he relinquished responsibilities months before he began campaigning. He denied receiving any financial assistance from Arcelor Mittal for the 2015 elections.
Al Wari said he was not bothered by Persad-Bissessar’s threat to take him to the Integrity Commission. He pointed out that none of her past allegations have proven to be true.