“....if the steelband movement is to go forward, we cannot do so with Keith Diaz as the president”
Global - With grumblings in social media circles by pan players in Trinidad & Tobago about a possible boycott of Panorama 2017, along with frustration voiced by many during the year - saying they had not received their stipends due them for participating in the 2016 season, another element has now been thrown into the mix.
Bryon Serrette - the now-former Vice President of Pan Trinbago, after being the organization’s No. 2 in command for the past seven years, tendered his resignation this past Sunday, October 30. This was brought about, basically, by allegations of fraud and improprieties within Pan Trinbago.
His resignation letter in part, documents this:
“My contributions have been aimed at improving the administrations of the Steelband Movement in the areas of governance, transparency and financial independence towards a global positioning.
“I have sought to draw attention to our weaknesses and deficiencies and proposed ways to correct and improve our processes and decision making. However, I recognized a reluctance and resistance to meaningful change.
“Recently, I have had cause to do some investigation in aspects of our operations. This became necessary because of a patent lack of communication and information at the central executive. What I have unearthed is a trail of questionable financial transactions and a large and growing debt.”
Former Vice President of Pan Trinbago Bryon Serrette during his CNC3 interview
Fast-forward to Serrette on Tuesday morning, speaking out during an interview on Trinidad & Tobago’s CNC3 “The Morning Brew.” He went into deeper detail as to what led to him taking this final step of officially separating himself from the Pan Trinbago organization.
“I have hard proof of particular transactions,” Serrette assured the interviewer. With Pan Trinbago’s most recent audit now available, Serrette also stated “The results of the audit is (sic) that Pan Trinbago is very close to insolvency...We are ‘in the red’ to the tune of millions of dollars, and it seems as though the executive is not prepared to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, we seem to be running headlong into the abyss.” He also shared concern about the seeming disconnect from/lack of reaction by the membership (band representatives and management present on Sunday during the organization’s AGM (annual general meeting) to the situation. “I have to say that it seems as though the membership does not understand what that means.”
A pan player himself since thirteen years of age - in a nutshell, like many pan musicians, Serrette rose through the steelband ranks both as a player and administrator, while holding down a formal career (in his case, with the Customs and Excise Division for 35 years). However - within the past two years and as a member of the Pan Trinbago executive (he was voted in vice president as part of the then-new administration), and in particular over the past six months, Serrette says in his estimation business protocols were not being observed. He broached his concerns about the organization’s finance and governance as recently as this past June at its organizational retreat, via an extensive fifteen-page memo, sharing copies of it with those present - but to no avail. Serrette also described what he felt was ostracism from colleagues which became more pronounced after the retreat. “I have come under even more pressure from the president [Keith Diaz].” He shared later on in the interview “Mr. Keith Diaz don’t (sic) speak to me any more.”
Using the term “questionable transactions,” Serrette pulled no punches regarding overall responsibility, declaring “I put it squarely at the feet of the president - squarely....I place it squarely at his feet.” He also went on to cite “collusion by other members of the Executive.” Questioned further about the presidency of Keith Diaz, Serrette declared unreservedly “Yes I do” to wanting him removed from that position. “....if the steelband movement is to go forward, we cannot do so with Keith Diaz as the president.”
Later on during the day, CNC3 media obtained ‘a comprehensive bundle of documents’ a few of which were displayed, and which they say “raises serious questions about the purchase of two luxury vehicles allegedly for an executive of Pan Trinbago.”
When contacted by local press Guardian Media for comments on Bryon Serrette’s allegations, Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz ‘indicated’ he ‘would not be commenting to the media.’