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Panday says he didn’t know he had to declare wife’s assets

Trinidad Express

FORMER prime minister and political leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Basdeo Panday, said yesterday the reason he did not declare a London bank account was because he did not consider himself to be the beneficial owner of the account.

Panday, an attorney, who admitted he was made a signatory to the account “some years ago”, told the Express last evening that he never transacted “any business at all” on the London account held at National Westminister Bank now under scrutiny by the Integrity Commission.

He said he was made a signatory to the account held by his wife, Oma, in the event that something happened to her.

“Being a mere signatory to an account to facilitate the provision of money to our children, I didn’t consider that to be part of my assets,” said Panday, when asked why he failed to make a full disclosure as required by the Integrity legislation. Two of Panday’s daughters, Mickela and Nicola, live and study in London.

Panday told the Express he was unaware that he was required to disclose the assets of his wife and dependent children. He said filings for the period 1997 to 1999 were submitted by a trusted accountant, who, he maintained, complied with the law.

“That account was not declared because I did not consider myself to be the beneficial owner of that account,” he said. Told that the law also required full disclosure of assets held by his spouse and dependent children, Panday said: “That I don’t know.”

He suggested that the old disclosure forms which his accountant used did not require spousal filings. He said the declaration forms currently in use related to the old Integrity legislation and not the Integrity in Public Life Act, 2000, passed by his Government.

Panday confirmed in an interview carried on TV6 last night that he was officially informed of the Integrity Commission probe on Thursday. Panday denied that the London account contained £1 million or £490,000, as one newspaper reported. He told TV6 News that he did not know exactly how much money the account held. The newspaper reports, Panday contended, were “mere speculation”.

He refused to provide details relating to deposits made to the account. He said to do so would be tantamount to “leaking information” to the media.

A week before the story of Panday’s London account broke, he spoke of a plot to arrest him on trumped-up charges. He has told UNC supporters that they are not to take his bail in the event of an arrest.

According to the Integrity in Public Life Act, a public official who makes a false declaration is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $250,000 and to imprisonment for a term of ten years.\top\It's%20Oma's%20money.htm&mydate=2002-05-25&mypage=top

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