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Khans get $m offer to drop Gypsy, Chaitan case

Farad KhanFranklin Khan
PNM candidates: Farad Khan & Franklin Khan

December 20, 2000

THE two PNM candidates who are embroiled in the legal battles to have the election of the UNC’s Winston “Gypsy” Peters and William Chaitan declared void have both been swamped with million-dollar offers and threats by top UNC officials in a bid to have them withdraw their lawsuits.

Sources close to Farad Khan and Franklin Khan say that “undue pressure” is being brought to bear on them.

“We just have to hope they won’t crack when millions of dollars are being waved before their faces, coupled with thinly veiled threats about what would happen to them if they didn’t go along with the suggestion that they withdraw the cases,” they said.

“In effect, they are being asked to surrender the Ortoire/Mayaro and Pointe-a-Pierre seats to the UNC.”

Farad Khan’s neighbours told the Independent they never knew he had such wealthy friends until after the election.

“Almost every day since the election, we have seen Mercedes Benz saloons, Volvos and other expensive cars pull up at his home. We have known Farad since he was a boy, and he was always a simple person. So we were amazed that he had acquired such wealthy friends, especially as he lost the election.”

Khan fought the Pointe-a-Pierre seat for the PNM. He polled 6,795 votes to Chaitan’s 11,064. Even before polling day, however, PNM’s leader Patrick Manning was declaring that Khan had already won the seat, since Chaitan held allegiance to a foreign country, Canada, on nomination day. The losing candidates were expected to file legal action earlier this week to have Chaitan and Peters’ victories voided.

Farad, contacted by the Independent at his Caroni Ltd office, confirmed the approaches.

“I was approached by a number of people who all claimed to be not officially representing the UNC,” said Farad, adding however, that they were all well-known supporters and financiers of the party.

Among the many persons who visited Farad to discuss the case was a delegation which included the chairman of a State corporation and two restaurant owners.

Other wealthy UNC businessmen are also said to have found the Caroni Ltd employee’s humble home in Macaulay, advising him that he could lose the legal action and incur tremendous costs. They were willing to give him huge sums of money up front if he withdrew the action. They also promised him “instant promotion” at his workplace if he did as they requested.

“But Farad is a humble Muslim who is fasting this month, and although he received everyone who has been to see him, he has told them that he could not in conscience take any bribe. He told them he was not prepared to circumvent the rule of law for the expediency of promotion on his job,” a source close to the candidate said.

Farad’s neighbours, many of whom are also Muslims, said they were shocked when they saw one UNC man, an officer in one of the Muslim organisations, at the losing candidate’s home.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw this man turn up at Khan’s home. He is Muslim and should not be engaged in such underhand activities, especially during Ramadan. But there he was making offers to the boy.”

Franklin Khan, the Independent was told, has also been swamped with approaches from the UNC camp. But he is different, his supporters say, in that he is quite wealthy in his own right.

“He cannot be bought. In fact, he can buy some of the men who have approached him.”

Franklin was hesitant to respond when asked by the Independent about approaches made to him but he did say that he had taken certain precautions regarding his own safety and that of his family.

Farad, in the meantime, is working as usual at Caroni, where he is a supervisor in the Cane Farming Department. Last year he ran into problems when he attempted to smash a racket in the Barrackpore district. Instead of being commended for the job, he was hauled before management and was eventually relegated to a desk job in the human resources department, which he still holds.

On several occasions, he said, he had been abused by officials of the All Trinidad Sugar and Factory Workers Trade Union.

Farad said he met on Tuesday with a senior Caroni Ltd official in a bid to regularise his status at the company and was chased out of the office after being told that he was likely to be transferred out of his department.

When contacted, Rodney Charles, the UNC’s communications specialist, expressed shock and anger.

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