Trinidad’s Attorney General, Reginald Armour says he will seek the advice of “eminent local and foreign senior and King’s Counsel” following the collapse of the corruption case against former attorney general, Anand Ramlogan and former opposition legislator and attorney, Gerald Ramdeen, on Monday.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Roger Gaspard, SC, told the Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle Caddle, that the state’s main witness, Jamaica-born British King’s Counsel, Vincent Nelson, had indicated that while he is willing to give evidence, he is not willing to do so until a civil-claim case against the state is concluded.
Gaspard said it would not be fair to have the duo “in limbo” while Nelson is pursuing his litigation adding that the charges may be reinstated once it is completed.
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The Chief Magistrate then discharged the duo.
Armour said the discontinuance of the criminal charges “has understandably come as a stunning development and surprise” and that it was also surprising because Nelson entered into a plea agreement with the DPP to give evidence against Ramlogan and Ramdeen “in exchange for a recommendation by the director to the High Court that Nelson is given a non-custodial sentence.
“As attorney general, I wish to assure the people of this country that I will consider every available avenue to protect the public’s interests, including (but not limited to) civil proceedings to recover any possible proceeds of the crimes allegedly committed by Messrs. Ramlogan and Ramdeen and disciplinary proceedings before the disciplinary committee of the legal profession,” he said.
Reginald Armour said having obtained a fuller account of the DPP’s decision to discontinue the criminal proceedings, “I will be taking the advice of eminent local and foreign senior and King’s Counsel to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of justice for the people of Trinidad and Tobago”.
In 2019, Ramdeen and Ramlogan were charged with conspiring with Nelson for Ramlogan to misbehave in public office as attorney general, by accepting money from Nelson as a reward for giving him state briefs.
In March 2020, Nelson, who pleaded guilty in June 2019 for his part in the alleged kickback scheme, was ordered to pay TT$2.25 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) in restitution as part of a plea-bargain arrangement with the State. As part of the deal, he agreed to turn state witness and testify against Ramlogan and Ramdeen.
In a statement, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said her United National Congress (UNC) welcomed the discontinuance of the corruption kickback charges against Ramlogan, who served in her 2010-15 government and Ramdeen, an ex-UNC senator.
She said the party viewed the matter as “the tip of the iceberg” of corruption by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) and “conspiracy to pervert the course of justice”.
The UNC leader said she will be “relentless in our pursuit of the truth so that justice can be done.”
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